Limited Lifespans of Wind Turbines Result in Higher Costs of Energy

Center of the American Experiment, 6-26-2018, Mitchell Rolling

Key Takeaways:

  • We keep reading that wind energy “is the cheapest energy source available”
  • These claims are based on cost-estimates that assume the lifespan of wind turbines to be 30 years. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the lifespan of wind turbines is about 20 to 25 years.
  • However, real world results show wind turbines reaching the end of their lives even faster, as little as 14 years after installation.
  • Industry failed to account for the additional spending necessary to repower a wind turbine and extend its life. A report conducted in 2017 projects repowering these turbines will exceed $25 billion by 2030 in the US.
  • As wind turbines grow older, their utilization rates become even worse, dropping at a rate of 1.6 percent each year – which eventually requires the turbine to be repowered.
  • Wind energy is indeed very costly; even without fuel expenses. This is because wind facilities require more frequent upgrades than other power plants and produce energy at far lower rates.
  • If cost-estimates are going to be calculated correctly, accurate lifespans and capacity factors of different power plants need to be accounted for.