Wind power

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This is a factual article as opposed to fiction or scenario. It describes the current state of the field and explains expected future developments without speculation or fantasy.

Today, wind power is one of the many forms of sustainable technology under evaluation by several countries, in addition to biomass, solar energy, and arguably nuclear power.

From the 1980s to the 2000s, the cost of wind turbines had fallen steadily, although in 2005 and 2006, costs have began rising, reaching $1600 per kW, up $400 from $1200 just a few years prior. Cost per unit of energy produced was estimated in 2006 to be comparable to the cost of new generating capacity in the United States for coal and natural gas: wind cost was estimated at $55.80 per MWh, coal at $53.10/MWh and natural gas at $52.50.

Most major forms of electricity generation are capital-intensive, meaning that they require substantial investments at project inception, and low ongoing costs (generally for fuel and maintenance). This is particularly true for wind and hydropower, which have fuel costs close to zero and relatively low maintenance costs; in economic terms, wind power has an extremely low marginal cost and a high proportion of up-front costs. The "cost" of wind energy per unit of production is generally based on average cost per unit, which incorporates the cost of construction, borrowed funds, return to investors (including cost of risk), estimated annual production, and other components. Since these costs are averaged over the projected useful life of the equipment, which may be in excess of twenty years, cost estimates per unit of generation are highly dependent on these assumptions. Figures for cost of wind energy per unit of production cited in various studies can therefore differ substantially. The cost of wind power also depends on several other factors, such as installation of power lines from the wind farm to the national grid and the frequency of wind at the site in question.

Compared to other forms of land-based renewable energy production, wind power is the best option for inland areas that do not receive much sunlight (such as Northern Siberia, with the land, transportation and conversion involved in biomass-derived energy being more expensive than the energy produced itself, and solar energy relying on stored photovoltaic energy). Russia may therefore consider this as a safe and less toxic alternative to nuclear power in its northern oblasts and republics, and it is expected that it will be accepted well, given the Chernobyl accident and the subsequent wariness of nuclear power plants.


Wind turbine efficiency

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