NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wind Power Is Not Economically Feasible

March 25, 2015

The U.S. Department of Energy recently released a report claiming consumers and the environment would benefit from increasing the proportion of electricity derived from wind power. In the report, they estimate the nation can deploy wind power to economically provide 35 percent of our nation's electricity and supply renewable power in all 50 states by 2050.

A 2012 report from Reason Foundation found it is not economically feasible to expect wind generation to produce more than 20 percent of operating electricity capacity. Expanding wind penetration beyond about 10 percent requires a significant increase in the amount of available "spinning reserve."

That need for backup increases the capital costs of wind power because the spinning reserve generating capacity must be available even if it is not being used. Considering this, wind energy is not cost-competitive with fossil fuels by a wide margin, even the Department of Energy's own estimates put the leveled cost of wind at 20 percent higher than natural gas.

To achieve 35 percent by 2050, 11 gigawatts of wind generation capacity per year need to be installed. Such a massive investment (reaching $70 billion in 2050) would divert hundreds of billions of dollars away from other investment in innovations, which have the potential for far higher returns, generating greater benefits to a larger number of companies and providing more and better jobs.

Source: Julian Morris, "White House Claims About Wind Power Are Implausible and Dangerous," Real Clear Markets, March 18, 2015. 


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