Wind turbine prices drop one-third in the last four years

Wind turbine prices have dropped nearly one-third since 2008 according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The agency released a study in the fall, Understanding Understanding Trends in Trends in Wind Turbine Prices Over the Past Decade.

It found that prices nearly doubled from 2002 to 2008 due to wind turbines becoming much larger, but have now fallen by around 20% to 30%.

"After hitting a low of roughly $750/kW from 2000 to 2002, average wind turbine prices doubled through 2008, rising to an average of roughly $1,500/kW," writes the researchers.

"Wind turbine prices have since declined substantially, with price quotes for transactions executed in 2010 and to date in 2011 ranging from $900-$1,400/kW depending on the manufacturer and turbine model."

Researchers found several factors played a part in declining costs, and that there was no single dominant factor for the price decline. Warranty and labour costs were down over the last four years. Profits were also squeezed.

Building and installing a wind turbine requires a lot of energy, as well as steel and other materials, but during this last four years of the commodity boom, the impact of raw material and energy costs was muted. Favourable currency movements, namely a weak U.S. dollar, also helped keep wind turbine costs down.

Wind turbines design continues to improve, but the cost flow-through was not as great as it was near the start of 2000.