Running a Wind Farm: How Much Does a Wind Turbine Cost?

Topic: wind farm extension Read Time: 6 mins
Landowner type:
Independent landowners | Institutional landowners
Energy: Onshore wind
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Are you interested in running a wind farm? It doesn’t matter whether you’ve already set your plans in motion or simply want to know “how much does a wind turbine cost?”. This in-depth guide will answer all your burning questions.

If you’re thinking of running a wind farm, you’re probably trying to sift through mountains of information, advice, and data to get yourself started. And that can feel completely overwhelming.

To help you out, we’ve created a short and sweet guide on running a wind farm that covers exactly how much the average wind turbine costs. Plus, we’ll run through maintenance costs and those sneaky hidden expenses that you might not have previously thought about as a landowner.

With all this knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to decide whether the cost of a wind turbine (or a few!) is worth the financial investment.

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Wind Farm?

To keep things simple, we’ll start with this. The costs of an average wind farm depend largely on how big your wind farm is going to be.

And that mainly relates to the number of turbines you’re installing, the size of them, and whether they’re commercial or designed for home use. But you’ll also need to consider installation costs, insurance costs, maintenance fees, and any expert consulting fees you’ll incur along the way.

The initial installation costs and expert fees will typically be paid before your wind farm is up and running and you may also need to pay for consultation costs to solicitors, land agents, and accountants during its lifetime.

But overall, the biggest ongoing expense that you’ll incur from running your wind farm will come from maintenance costs.

And that’s not just about servicing, repairs, and any spare parts either.

It also encompasses:

  • Relevant insurance
  • Any admin costs relating to the project
  • Power required to run the project (though this would often fall on a site operator)
  • Operations costs
  • Grid connection costs
  • Feed-in-Tariff costs
  • Decommissioning costs

And the longer your wind farm is operational, the more likely you are to experience component failures that can be expensive.

How Much Does a Wind Turbine Cost?

photo a wind turbines surrounded by agriculture farm

The cost of a wind turbine varies depending on who manufactures and installs it. But generally, your average 15kW turbine will cost around £70,000, while commercial 3.5 MW turbines can cost upwards of £3.13 million!

Generally, the larger your wind turbine is, the more energy it’s able to harness. This may not translate into bumper profits for the first few years, but the installation should eventually pay off over time

When building an average turbine, you will typically contact a series of suppliers to source parts. There are some instances where they’ll be able to secure a supply agreement with a specific turbine manufacturer, who will secure everything from the tower sections to the blades and nacelle.

Getting all of the parts together can take up to 12 months, and this is when you’ll be able to get a construction crew on site to landscape the area and begin the turbine-building process.

How Much Does a Wind Turbine Cost (Blades)?

If you didn’t know, the heftiest price you’ll pay during your wind farm construction will come from the rotor blades. Generally, these account for up to 60% of the cost of an average turbine, with the transformer, generator, and power converter making up the rest of the complex puzzle. Oh, and the grid and civil works costs required to construct the turbine, of course.

The costs vary depending on what country you’re in and how much commodities like steel vary over time. It’s worth knowing that all the materials required to construct a wind turbine are priced separately, with the nacelle, rotor, and turbine foundation making up the majority of the cost.

If the price of any separate construction material were to increase significantly, you could expect the overall cost of a turbine to increase also.

How Much Does A Wind Turbine Cost to Run?

Although most of your cost investment in a turbine will go towards building it – you also need to consider annual running costs.

According to Renewables First, many wind turbine manufacturers offer long-term warranty and maintenance packages for approximately 5-15 years after building. This should give you a decent support system throughout the early years of your turbine’s life. But if you’re wondering exactly how much your average 100kW or 3.5MW turbine costs to run, then we’ve got a handy table for you.

Power Output of TurbineAnnual Operations and Maintenance Cost
100kW £9,000
1 MW£45,000
3 MW£86,000
3.5 MW£174,000

As you can see, large wind turbines cost significantly more to run than smaller turbines. But as larger wind farms will have a heftier budget and more scope for returns, the maintenance investment is usually well worth it. It’s also key to note that these costs wouldn’t typically fall on a landowner unless they were self-developing a project.

How Much Does a Wind Turbine Make a Year?

It’s tricky to say exactly how much a wind turbine makes a year as it depends on on-site consumption and annual electricity price rises.

In recent years, the soaring cost of energy (and the fact that it’s fixed to the price of gas!) has made wind energy more profitable than ever. But the average 3.5MW turbine can make anything from £2,790,000 to £7,100,000. This is based on 100% on-site consumption and an electricity price rise of 3%.

If all of the energy is exported to the grid, the same turbine would make around £1,570,000. So, if you have multiple wind turbines on your land, you could be looking at a significant income (once costs have been deducted).

FAQs

If this article has piqued your interest, you might want to learn a bit more about average wind energy costs and potential returns. After all, if you want to know “how much does a wind turbine cost?” you’ll probably want to reap the rewards. Here, we’ll run through a few frequently asked questions that have probably been playing on your mind as you read through this piece.

How much does it cost to buy a small wind turbine?

As we briefly mentioned earlier, a 1.5kW free-standing turbine (which is relatively small!) will set you back around £7,000.

There’s no guarantee on how much energy it will produce as this depends on wind speeds and altitude. But it generally returns around 2,600kW per year. If you’re planning to buy a roof-mounted wind turbine, you can expect to pay approximately £2,000.

Is wind cheaper than solar?

Wind plants are generally more efficient and cost-effective than solar plants. So, in theory, you can say that wind is cheaper than solar. Overall, wind and solar energy are the cheapest renewable energy sources which makes them fantastic alternatives to fossil fuels.

Photo of a windfarm

Does a wind turbine pay for itself?

An average wind turbine will pay for itself in a few years (usually around 5 or 6!). After this period, your initial investment will be recouped and you can start turning a profit.

Do you need planning permission to install a wind turbine in the UK?

You certainly do need planning permission to install a wind turbine in the UK, and it can be a pain to get. Not only do you need to find a site that has been approved as appropriate for wind farms by local councils, but everything needs to be green-lit by the community.

For this reason, it can be a tricky, long, and winding road for landowners and developers who want to build a new wind farm.

How much do farmers get paid for wind turbines in the UK?

Although it will always depend on the size of the turbines, the average commercial turbine can earn as much as £1.25 million a year gross (or more!). If landowners are paid via a specific payment arrangement, they can receive up to 20% of the overall income from the project.

We hope that this article has answered the question, “how much does a wind turbine cost?”

If you’re trying to get a renewable energy project off the ground or want more insight into your current site, we can help. Our SiteScan(™) will tell you everything you need to know about competing sites across the UK to get you the fairest payments possible.  So, feel free to get in touch today.

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