October, 2013

Assessing Wind Power Cost Estimates

  • Michael Giberson

    Associate Professor in the Area of Energy, Economics, and Law, Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University
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This study examines estimates of the cost of wind power capacity produced by the U.S. government and provides additional context in order to better guide policy decisions concerning wind power. The federal government has devoted substantial
resources to estimate the costs of wind power capacity and the associated costs of integrating wind power into transmission
grids, but the complexity of the power grid and the technical nature of most research studies make it difficult for policymakers and non-specialist interested citizens to understand just what these studies mean. Numerous reports produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveal a great deal about wind power costs. However, the most frequently cited numbers, concerning estimated Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) of wind power, do not capture all of the costs of wind power. 

This study examines estimates of the cost of wind power capacity produced by the U.S. government and provides additional context in order to better guide policy decisions concerning wind power. The federal government has devoted substantialresources to estimate the costs of wind power capacity and the associated costs of integrating wind power into transmissiongrids, but the complexity of the power grid and the technical nature of most research studies make it difficult for policymakers and non-specialist interested citizens to understand just what these studies mean. Numerous reports produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reveal a great deal about wind power costs. However, the most frequently cited numbers, concerning estimated Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) of wind power, do not capture all of the costs of wind power. 

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