This special interest group is for professionals to connect and discuss all types of carbon-free power alternatives, including nuclear, renewable, tidal and more.

Post

Wind experts report that average operating expenses for land-based wind projects have declined by ~50% over the last two decades

image credit: Leowolfert - Dreamstime
Ryan Wiser's picture
Senior Scientist LBNL

Dr. Ryan H. Wiser is a Senior Scientist and Deputy Group Leader in the Electricity Markets and Policy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Ryan leads and conducts research and analysis...

  • Member since 1999
  • 4 items added with 3,082 views
  • Jun 20, 2019 5:45 am GMT
  • 906 views

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-06 - US Wind Power, click here for more

A new article in the journal Renewable Energy Focus clarifies trends in the operational expenditures (OpEx) of U.S. land-based wind power plants.

Wind plant OpEx is an important but sometimes overlooked driver of levelized cost of energy (LCOE) trends for land-based wind. In particular, plant OpEx has implications for operating life and overall project viability. This new work—led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory—draws primarily from a survey of senior members of the U.S. wind industry to describe historical and current trends in land-based wind OpEx and to provide insights into drivers of those trends. It compares the resulting estimates for average OpEx with other OpEx benchmarks and extrapolates the historical data to estimate future land-based wind OpEx, comparing the resulting estimates with other recent assessments.

Your access to Member Features is limited.

Key findings and insights from this newly published work include:

  • Average total lifetime OpEx has declined from approximately $80/kW-yr (~$35/MWh) for projects built in the late 1990s to a level approaching $40/kW-yr (~$11/MWh) for projects built in 2018 (see figure below).
  • Turbine operations and maintenance (O&M)—inclusive of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance—represents the single largest component of overall OpEx and the primary source of cost reductions over the last decade.
  • Experts report a wide range in OpEx estimates around these averages; for example, survey respondents cite expected OpEx for projects commissioned between 2015 and 2018 from a low of $33/kW-yr to a high of $59/kW-yr (~$9–16/MWh).
  • The core drivers of OpEx variability include turbine, project, and fleet size; wind project location; turbine maturity and assumed rates of component failure; wind resource; and local tax rules. Other drivers include the choice between entering into service contracts with the turbine manufacturer versus self-provision of O&M services, as well as tradeoffs between the cost and value of enhanced O&M practices.
  • The observed historical OpEx learning rate is 9% (OpEx reduction) for each doubling of global installed wind capacity. Based on this rate, this research projects a further $5–$8/kW-yr (12%–18%) OpEx reduction from 2018 to 2040, which would reduce LCOE by as much as $2/MWh.
  • This projection suggests that continued OpEx reductions may contribute 10% or more of the expected reductions in land-based wind’s LCOE over the next few decades.
  • These estimates likely understate the importance of OpEx, owing to the multiplicative effects through which operational advancements influence not only O&M costs but also component reliability, performance, and plant-level availability.

 Average All-in Wind OpEx Over Time, with Future Projections

Overall, given the limited quantity and comparability of previously available OpEx data, the data and trends reported in this new research may usefully inform OpEx assumptions used by electric system planners, analysts, modelers, and research and development managers. The results may also provide useful benchmarks to the wind industry, helping developers and asset owners compare their OpEx expectations with historical experience and other industry projections.

The Renewable Energy Focus article can be found here. An earlier Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report on the research can be found here.  

The research was funded by the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and was led by Ryan Wiser, senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Ryan Wiser's picture
Thank Ryan for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member
Discussions
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.

No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »