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Experts Project Continued Drop in Wind-Energy Costs

Technology advancements are expected to continue to drive down the cost of wind energy. (Pixabay)
Technology advancements are expected to continue to drive down the cost of wind energy. (Pixabay)
October 10, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Some of the answers to the challenges of switching to clean energy could be blowing in the wind, according to a survey of wind power experts led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Researchers found advances in technology should continue to drive down wind energy costs by as much as 30 percent by the year 2030, and more than 40 percent by 2050.

Ryan Wiser, the report's lead author, says reductions in up-front costs and increased performance output will be the biggest drivers.

"Even though wind energy has expanded and deployed significantly in the United States already, there remain a large number of opportunities to further reduce the cost of wind energy in the future," he states.

Wiser says improving technologies will mean bigger turbines, taller towers and longer blades. He notes lower costs are likely to lead to more wind energy production, which emits zero greenhouse gases or toxic pollutants, but could increase land-use issues and threats to wildlife.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Energy.

Wiser says reduced costs will help the wind industry stay competitive with solar and fossil fuels by keeping prices low.

He adds falling prices aren't likely to hit the industry the same way global price drops have affected oil and gas producers.

"Prices, which are established at a global level, have declined, but their underlying costs have not also similarly declined, at least at the same level,” Wiser explains. “So, it's that 'pinching' that really has hurt the oil and gas industry in the U.S."

Wiser says he's hopeful the survey will be useful to policymakers, and help inform government and private research and development.

The study summarized a global survey of 163 wind energy experts on land based and offshore wind production.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY