Despite enormous gains in the green energy industry, there are still significant funding hurdles to overcome, particularly when it comes to wind.
Wind power accounts for 65 billion kWh per year, enough to power about 6 million U.S. homes, and has the potential to rise to 25 million homes per year by 2020. Wind farms are also effective power generators, producing between 17 and 39 times as much power as they consume—well above brown energy sources like coal.
But for all its good qualities, wind power has one bad one: cost. The UK, for example, just set a record high for wind pricing where the price per MWh reached £66.97 in 2012-13. Industry advances notwithstanding, the price rose significantly from the year before, reflecting the huge costs associated with building wind turbines at sea.
Many wind farmers have turned their efforts on the ocean, where farms receive about twice the government subsidies as more controversial land-based installations that raise concerns about sightlines and environmental impact. But with these subsidies come a big economic burden that increases the relative cost.
There is plenty of good news, though. First, the heavy investments are a reflection of the EU’s overall commitment to moving its members toward sustainable production methods. Second, ever-improving technology should help sustainable producers recoup their expenses over time. They should be able to pass these lower costs on to consumers, as well, as estimates show the cost of household energy will decrease significantly between 2014 and 2030 if all production mandates are met. Finally, high costs haven’t hampered wind’s pursuit just yet, exemplified by the fact that 31 percent of the U.S.’ new wind generating capacity was installed in just the last five years.
Still, the current price increase reflects a strong need for innovators to band together to ensure that the future is one where green energy and affordable energy are synonymous. We at Viridian Energy continue to strive and do our part within this global effort.