Economic Benefits

Confirmed again: wind power cost-competitive with all fuels

A new report finds the U.S. wind sector is the world's most cost-competitive in terms of levelized cost of energy.
Confirmed again: wind power cost-competitive with all fuels
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It’s no secret we like to tout wind’s falling costs, which have decreased 66 percent over the last six years. After all, cheaper electricity is good for business and it’s good for consumers.

Now another new report confirms yet again how cost-effective wind power has become.

MAKE Consulting recently found that, “Wind and solar energy have experienced significant improvements in the cost of electricity in all major markets, bringing renewable energy to be cost competitive with conventional fossil fuels, despite historically low fuel pricing.”

The report highlights that the “U.S. wind energy sector is the most competitive in the world, in terms of levelized cost of energy.”

As a reminder, the Energy Information Administration defines the levelized cost of energy as, “a summary of the overall competitiveness of different generating technologies. Key inputs… include capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type.”

The growth of wind in Texas and throughout the Midwest is a significant driver for this cost-competitiveness, and it’s clear how successful American wind power has been considering the U.S. generated more electricity from wind than any other country in 2015.

US_Wind_Winner_2015 (2)

MAKE’s findings echo several other reports released over the past year.

Wall Street investment firm Lazard also found that wind’s costs have fallen by more than 60 percent over the last six years, making it cost-competitive with conventional fuels in certain areas of the country, even with their historically low prices.

Likewise, the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that wind energy was the biggest, fastest, cheapest way to help states cut carbon pollution and meet Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Wind projects built to meet state RPS laws through 2013 helped to create a total of $7.5 billion in annual environmental benefits from reduced air emissions, 27 billion gallons of reduced water consumption every year, $1.3 to $4.9 billion in reduced consumer energy prices, 200,000 American jobs, and $20 billion in annual GDP.

These numbers are why groups like Politifact and FactCheck.org have declared it’s true that in many parts of the country, wind is the cheapest source of new electricity.

MAKE’s report is just the latest evidence that wind power is keeping more money in the pockets of American families and businesses. It’s because of low costs that there’s now enough wind in the U.S. to power 20 million homes, and why it’s on track to quadruple in size by 2030 to supply 20 percent of the country’s electricity. This is an American success story with plenty of chapters full of good news still to come.

Economic Benefits

Greg is AWEA's Deputy Director of External Communications. He is the head editor and writer for Into the Wind, and oversees AWEA's online content and opinion writing. Greg holds a Master's degree in Global Environmental Policy from American University's School of International Service. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Journalism from Lehigh University.

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