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You’ve probably heard that wind energy is inexpensive, but what does this actually mean?

The cost of energy for any generator is its whole of life costs divided by its lifetime generation; normally measured in $ per MWh.

Cost of energy considers all costs, including the capital cost of the plant, the cost of maintenance and repairs, the cost of fuel and the cost of end-of-life decommissioning, and the amount of electricity the plant actually generates.

Despite the fact that the wind doesn’t always blow and wind turbines rarely generate at full capacity, wind energy is still one of the cheapest forms of electricity.  How can this be?

Significant advancements in turbine technology over the past two decades and a surge in worldwide installation rates, driving

manufacturing costs down further, has reduced the cost of wind energy over the past decade by more than half.

Another obvious reason for the low cost of wind energy is that the fuel is free.  Generators that use natural gas and coal, have these additional costs that are significant, volatile and unpredictable.

In Australia, the cost of energy calculation doesn’t take into account carbon emissions, due to the absence of a carbon tax.  In countries where the impacts of carbon emissions are paid by the offending generator, the difference in cost of energy between carbon producing generators and renewable sources is even more stark.

Even without considering the environmental benefits of wind energy, the benefits of this inexpensive source of electricity will ensure wind will continue to be a significant part of our future.