Q. What does it cost to erect a wind turbine?
A. The answer depends a bit on where the turbine is being erected, and how many turbines are being erected as part of the wind turbine array (wind farm). If many turbines are being installed in an array, the per unit cost will be lower than if a single turbine is installed (such as a lone demonstration unit). The installation costs also include transportation costs, so the closer the turbine installation is to a major port or rail facility, the lower the transportation cost. Wind farm developers try to locate their facilities as close to existing electrical lines that have sufficient capacity to transport the product to customers; otherwise, costly electrical transmission lines that can cost from several hundred thousand to up to $ 1 million per mile have to be installed. In some areas, soil conditions may require a more expensive foundation for the turbine than for areas where bedrock is close to the surface.
The next part of the answer depends upon whether the turbine is installed onshore or offshore. In general, onshore turbine installation costs about 30 % of the overall system, while the remainder is the actual cost of the turbine itself. For offshore turbines, the installation can be over 50 % of the total system cost. Onshore multi-megawatt wind farms have an overall cost of about $1.05 million per megawatt of capacity, while offshore wind farms can cost over $1.4 million per MW of capacity. Some of the intermediate size, "mature product" turbines will cost less than $ 1000 per kilowatt of capacity.
For onshore turbines, the actual amount of time needed to install a turbine is not very significant. Indeed, the largest time items usually involve the siting and wind-surveying, and then permitting requirements. In some cases, wildlife (mostly for birds) studies may be needed, and these can take over a year and cost more than $ 100,000, depending upon the particular situation. The construction of the foundation can often be completed in 1 to 2 weeks, and then this is allowed to settle for between 1 to 3 months, depending upon the soil conditions. The assembly of the turbine is often finished in a day, and usually two cranes (a helper and the large one) are used for this very noticeable event.
In some instances, the financing of these projects may even involve sub-contracting the manufacture of some components to local businesses, or involve the requirement that these facilities be built (for example, the towers). Large scale wind farms involve large sums of monies, and in competitive situations (between turbine manufacturers, developers AND communities attempting to have these systems installed in their midst), the listed prices may be open to some negotiation, depending upon the scale of the wind farm, incentives offered, the demand for Green Energy and the various financing and state regulatory requirements that make up the prospective deal.
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