Renewable energy is a huge market that supplied a record 12% of the world’s energy needs last year. The average cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity through renewable sources such as wind power, doesn’t come close to the high price tag that’s attached to nuclear and coal.
Wind energy emits zero carbon dioxide, while being completely sustainable – unlike fossil fuels, which one day will run out. Once we look at the economic benefits, you’ll see why wind energy is actually cost efficient.
But first let’s take a look at exactly how wind energy works.
Grasping the cost of wind energy requires an understanding of how it works, first
For turbines to work you clearly need wind. Which is why you can find plenty of turbines throughout the heartland of the United States.
Understanding how a wind turbine works is pretty simple. You see, as wind blows toward a turbine’s blades, the blades spin around catching some of the kinetic energy from the wind. This kinetic energy then flows through a transformer and a generator where it is amped up to an even stronger voltage then from when it was caught. This wind energy is then filtered to a power grid, where it is then used to power buildings, homes, communities, etc.
If you’re interested in learning even more about turbines and the way they convert natural energy, check out our blog, “How wind turbines work to produce electricity.” We go in-depth on what wind energy is, and how it’s ultimately converted into electricity.
The economic benefits of wind energy
As we mentioned before, wind energy is a cost efficient solution. According to the latest Lazard Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE 11.0), the cost to produce wind energy is $45 per MWh (megawatt-hour). That same studied showed that nuclear costs $148 per MWh, and coal costing $102 per MWh.
From just those numbers alone, you can clearly see the cost efficiency behind wind energy. The only problem is that technology still hasn’t advanced to the point where wind energy can be the only energy producer. Companies have yet to figure out a way to store the energy created from turbines in batteries – that can then be used during non-windy days.
For now wind power is one cog of the wheel. An efficient power grid needs a predictable supply of energy to meet the demand. Which is why a mixture of different types of energy is currently needed. Wind turbines are currently able to only make power whenever opportunity presents itself. Nuclear on the other hand operates continuously.
The cost of running conventional power plants is another reason why renewable energies such as wind are needed in today’s economy. Relying on oil, means having to depend on foreign oil supplies. With the volatility of world energy markets, our mindset should be to get away from the traditional forms of energy producing. Instead we need to dedicate our efforts so that one day all of our energy needs can come from renewable energy sources.
For now though, a healthy combination of various energy forms is the best way to go. Technology is quickly advancing, which is why the benefits of wind energy will only continue to grow from here.