Why Wind Is the New Coal

The cost of onshore wind power dramatically decreased, and in some regions is competitive with coal, according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The survey is based on wind turbine contracts provided by 28 consumers in 28 global markets, which represent almost 7,000 megawatts (MW) of turbines. The contracts signed late last year for turbines delivered in the first half of this year decreased seven percent from 2009 to an average of $1.33 million a MW, a 19 percent decrease since 2007.

In some areas of the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Sweden, the cost of wind power ($68 per megawatt hour) generated electricity is competitive with coal-fired power (($67 a megawatt hour, according to the BNEF survey.

“The latest edition of our Wind Turbine Price Index shows wind continuing to become a competitive source of large-scale power,” Michael Liebreich, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Turbine costs up, wind costs down

“For the past few years, wind turbine costs went up due to rising demand around the world and the increasing price of steel,” he added. “Behind the scenes, wind manufacturers were reducing their costs, and now we are seeing just how cheap wind energy can be when overcapacity in the supply chain works its way through to developers.”

There’s more good news about wind power. It is now cost-competitive with natural gas for new electric generation, according to a recent statement by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“Wind power is a great deal right now in many areas of the country,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“If you’re going to build a new wind farm, it is going to be competitive with any other new form of generation,” says Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s director of industry data and analysis.

Once again, US is behind

When it comes to offshore wind power, the bad news is that the U.S. lags behind Europe, Japan and China. However, the National Offshore Wind Strategy Plan, a Joint DOE and Interior Department research program, may help to change that fact. The research program is now $50.5 million. The grant money will go to wind turbine hardware and software technology development ($25 million), next-generation drive-trains ($7.5 million), and research into removing market barriers for offshore wind (up to $18 million over 3 years). 

by JamezSA via Creative Commons
by Gina Marie Cheeseman

52 comments

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

This is ALL good news. No polluting carbon from coal, and no fracking contamination from natural gas -- IF ONLY the great repub minds in Congress will take heed of the scientific data (which they haven't in the past or present) and ACT to fund renewable R & D. It would be lovely if the most powerful country in the world, caught up with smaller ones.

SURPRISE ME, REPUBS! MAKE ME PROUD! I'm talking into the wind (turbine).

Julianna D.
Juliana D.5 years ago

Pretty cool.

Shawn S.
Shawn S.5 years ago

That is so awesome, this article really made my day!

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

If you want the power, you have to put up with either the pollution or the sight of these amazing windmills! I know which I prefer! Just as long as the ones on land are not grouped in large quantities.

Shirley E.
Shirley E.5 years ago

Everyone wants wind technology to be taking over from fossil fuels, but nobody wants it near them because of the worry about noise from the repetitive swoop of their turning and the feared effect on wildlife, among other things. As ever, it's all about compromise, but it is a route we absolutely have to go down, for the sake of the planet.

James J.
James J.5 years ago

Hmmm, reading the survey the cost is MW per capacity, not MW per production. The survey does not seem to actually indicate that the cost is competitive per MW produced. This misses the cost of peak power production, you would have to overbuild wind by as much as eight times coal or gas to meet peak demands in all conditions, making wind much more expensive than the survey indicates. Also he survey makes the point that these prices are basically driven down by competition among wind turbine companies, which will happen for other power if they have the same market conditions.

The cheapest power is hydro, then nuclear, then fossil, then wind, but wind cannot meet peak loads without multiplying average capacity by a factor of eight.

Joe L.
Joe Lade5 years ago

I read another study just out of the U.S. that claimed solar is now competitive with nuclear power!!! We should remember too that people used the sun, wind and water for power long before oil, gas and coal. In the 1920's 80% of all new homes built in Miami had solar water heaters on the roof. Our grandparents had FREE hot water. Now hot water is about 30% of a homes energy bill.
Re: Ant M.
Cry me a river! Sure people work for coal companies. Just like people used to work for companies that made wooden buggies, typewriters and such. Every time you go to Wal Mart for cheap Chinese products you drive another nail into the coffin of a North American worker. I was laid off from my copper mining job in the economic meltdown. I retrained and now sell and install solar, wind and microhydro systems. We also carry a line of composting toilets so people don't have to pollute with their waste, instead it can furtilize the flower garden.
If you want a future, look to the future.

Barbara Keya
Past Member 5 years ago

Dank u

Monica D.
M D.5 years ago

This sounds like great news! Thank you.

Laura M.
Past Member 5 years ago

hmm... It says steel is becoming scarce. Maybe old steel could be repurposed.
Anyway, I think solar power is more promising than wind. It can be collected more efficiently and poses less threat to still-intact ecosystems.