Cost of wind projects continues steady decline

By Cody Smith - Center for Rural Affairs

The U.S. wind industry is booming—expanding from 1.5 gigawatts of cumulative installed capacity in 1998 to 96.4 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2018.

At the same time, the cost of these projects continues to go down. According to the newly-released 2018 Wind Market Technologies Report from the U.S. Department of Energy, the average cost of constructing a wind energy project in 1983 was $4,478 per kilowatt hour. In 2018, the cost dropped to just $1,468 per kilowatt hour.

This stunning $3,010 decrease per kilowatt hour is indicative of the growth of the industry as the U.S. transitions to a clean energy economy.

Looking ahead, the country is poised to add more than 68 additional gigawatts of wind power capacity. This growth is necessary as the U.S. looks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the U.S. ranks 16th for installed wind power capacity, with 6.5 percent of U.S. power coming from renewable wind energy.

As this growth continues to compound and prices of production keep falling, our communities have an opportunity to continue realizing the benefits of wind energy. Tax revenue generation and job creation bring new opportunities to rural America. Last year, wind projects generated approximately $761 million in total tax payments to state and local governments. Meanwhile, the industry supports 140 turbine and component manufacturing facilities nationwide.

As market forces continue to favor renewable energy over fossil fuels, rural America has an opportunity to stake its claim in a clean energy economy.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

By Cody Smith

Center for Rural Affairs