Wind energy is anything BUT free

The truth speaks for itself below…

Various promoters maintain the cost of wind energy is competitive with other sources of energy. As shown below, this is not the case. The EIA calculates the levelized cost of NEW onshore wind turbine plants place in service in 2018, capacity factor 0.34, 30-yr life, at $86.6/MWh, including transmission of $3.2/MWh. NOTE: CFs of 0.34, and greater, are obtainable only in windy areas, such as west of Chicago, and offshore. Elsewhere, CFs are significantly less, based on published wind turbine production data from various areas in the world. See URL.

Assuming a realistic 20-year life of a wind turbine increases the levelized cost to $93/MWh.  After backing out the effect of accelerated depreciation for wind turbine plants, the levelized cost increases to $101/MWh. Adding the cost of increased frequency of start/stop operation, AND keeping gas and coal plants available in cold standby or synchronous standby mode in case of too little wind to turn the rotors, i.e., about 7.5 mph, AND operating more hours in inefficient, part-load-ramping mode extra Btu/kWh, extra CO2/kWh to balance the variable wind energy, is $17/MWh for natural gas, $55/MWh for coal.  Extra balancing NG adds $6.00/MWh, extra balancing coal adds $9.00/MWh  Transmission system investments to get wind energy to the grid adds $27/MWh.  Thus, the total levelized cost of wind energy averages $151/MWh with NG back-up/balancing and $192/MWh with coal back-up/balancing.  

NOTE: Levelized costs are the net present value of the total cost of new construction including finance charges during and after construction, maintenance, and operation of a generating plant over its lifetime, expressed in dollars per unit of output, i.e. dollars/MWh. They are used to compare various generating sources to see which sources are the most cost-effective when constructing new plants. The source of the above data is the American Tradition Institute, The Hidden Costs of Wind Electricity, December 2012,

via Wind Energy and Examining Cost | The Energy Collective.