Right now, the U.S. is one of the most wind energy-forward countries in the world. In fact, 17 different states have resources in place to produce anywhere from 1,250 – 10,000 megawatts of wind power that serves as electricity.
But what about the future of wind energy?
Well last year, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted the largest-ever survey of experts regarding energy. They gathered up 163 experts and asked them to predict whether wind energy would become steadily more affordable by 2030. The good news is that the experts are very optimistic about it, which “suggests our experts are not simply basing their estimates on the existing literature, but are bringing some new information—hopefully insightful information—to the table,” says LBL Senior Scientist Ryan Wiser in a Forbes article.
After the first group was surveyed, another group was surveyed – this time, 22 researchers and technologists who helped develop the wind industry over the last few decades. These individuals proved even more optimistic than the first group, making the successful future of wind energy a hopeful thing.
When it comes to onshore and offshore wind farm opportunities, it looks like prices could indeed fall. On average, experts predicted onshore wind energy to see cost reductions of around 35 percent by 2050, while offshore wind energy may drop even more, from 38 percent to 41 percent. This is good news, seeing as wind is already the cheapest form of energy in the U.S.
When you predict an overall cost change, there are several factors that actually go into determining this cost: up-front installation cost, capacity factor, design life, cost of financing, and operating expense. To further expand their predictions, the experts were asked to consider each of these factors instead of simply an overall cost.
“We forced people to think about all of the five components that ultimately go into the levelized cost of energy,” Wiser says. “We wanted to bring at this problem a somewhat new technique to see how it fit in with other existing literature that was out there.”
Here is a summary of their findings published in Nature Energy: