How Much Money Do You Make On A Wind Turbine?

How much money do you make on a wind turbine?

Wind turbines have become an increasingly popular source of renewable energy over the past few decades. As concerns about climate change and fossil fuel dependence grow, many countries are looking to wind power to provide clean, sustainable electricity. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the global installed capacity of wind power has increased more than fivefold in the last decade alone, from 121 GW in 2008 to over 591 GW by the end of 2018.

Wind turbines work by using the wind to spin large blades connected to a rotor. This rotational motion turns a generator to convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy. While a single wind turbine doesn’t produce much power, large groups of turbines called wind farms can provide electricity at utility-scale. Wind energy is considered a green technology since it produces no air or water pollution during operation.

With government incentives and improving technology making wind power more affordable, wind turbines are now seen in many countries around the world. As the world continues to shift toward renewable energy, wind turbines are expected to play a major role in helping reduce fossil fuel dependence and carbon emissions. This article provides an in-depth look at the economics behind wind turbines to assess their upfront costs, ongoing profits, and overall return on investment.

Upfront Costs

The largest upfront cost for a wind turbine is the purchase and installation. According to WeatherGuardWind, the typical cost for a commercial wind turbine ranges from $1.3 million to $2.2 million per megawatt (MW) of energy generating capacity. The turbine itself represents around 70-85% of the total upfront cost. Other major expenses include transportation of the components, foundation construction, electrical systems and grid connections.

For residential small wind turbines (under 100 kW), the turbine purchase and installation cost is often between $15,000 to $55,000 according to Windustry. These costs are significantly lower than commercial utility-scale turbines.

Overall, the total upfront investment for a wind turbine ranges widely based on the size, location, transportation needs and difficulty of installation. But the turbine itself remains the largest individual upfront cost.

Ongoing Maintenance

Wind turbines require regular maintenance and repairs to keep them functioning optimally. According to research on wind turbine operational cost, ongoing maintenance runs an additional $42,000-$48,000 per year per turbine ( This covers routine inspections, component replacements, gearbox oil changes, and addressing any minor repairs that come up.

Maintenance costs tend to be higher for older turbines and decrease for newer, larger models. One study found that maintenance costs decreased from around 3.5 cents per kWh for 55 kW turbines to less than 1 cent per kWh for more modern 600 kW machines ( Proper maintenance helps maximize uptime and energy production.

Land Leasing

If you don’t own the land where the wind turbine will be located, you’ll need to lease the land from the property owner. Land leasing costs can vary significantly depending on the location, local energy prices, and negotiations with the landowner.

According to, wind lease terms generally range from $4,000 to $8,000 per turbine, $3,000 to $4,000 per megawatt of capacity, or 2-4% of gross revenues. Landmark Dividend reports average rental payments around $8,000 per turbine per year.

The amount of land needed per turbine varies based on the turbine size and spacing requirements, but on average plan for 1-5 acres per megawatt of capacity. Larger, utility-scale wind farms with multiple turbines generally pay $5 to $40 per acre per year according to

Land leasing costs are a significant factor when calculating the overall costs and profitability of a wind turbine project.

Energy Production

The amount of energy a wind turbine produces depends on several factors, most notably the size of the turbine and the wind speeds in the area. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5-3 megawatts (MW) can produce more than 6 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, enough to power approximately 500 average U.S. homes (How Do Wind Turbines Work?, 2022). The larger the rotor diameter and taller the tower, the more energy the turbine can harness from the wind.

Modern utility-scale wind turbines can have rotor diameters over 160 feet. At higher wind speeds, the turbine operates more efficiently and generates more power. According to the National Grid, wind turbines will generally operate between 7-56 mph, with maximum efficiency around 18 mph (How does a wind turbine work?, 2023). The best locations for wind farms are areas with consistently high average wind speeds, such as plains, hilltops and offshore waters. Overall, a utility-scale wind turbine can generate anywhere from 400,000 to 7 million kWh per year.

Selling the Energy

The electricity generated by a wind turbine is typically sold back to the local utility company. This is done through a power purchase agreement (PPA), which allows independent power producers like homeowners with wind turbines to sell electricity to utilities at a negotiated rate.

The PPA rate will depend on factors like the size of the turbine system, location, and local energy prices. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the national average PPA rate for wind projects in 2021 was around 2.8¢/kWh. However, PPA rates can range from 1.5¢ to 4¢ per kWh or potentially higher in some markets.

With a PPA in place, the wind turbine owner earns money for every kWh of electricity fed into the utility grid. The turbine’s energy production capacity and the PPA rate will determine total annual revenue from selling this renewable energy.

Tax Credits and Incentives

There are several federal tax credits and incentives available in the U.S. that can improve the profitability of wind turbines. The main tax credit is the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which allows owners of wind turbines to claim a tax credit based on the amount of electricity generated and sold to the grid [1]. For wind projects that began construction in 2022, the PTC value is 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. The PTC can be claimed for the first 10 years after a wind facility is placed in service [2]. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is another option that allows project owners to claim a credit worth 26% of qualified costs in 2022 [1].

There is also a residential renewable energy tax credit available for small wind turbines less than 100 kW in capacity. This credit covers 30% of the total installed cost of a small wind system [3]. These federal tax credits and incentives can significantly improve the profitability of wind energy projects over their lifetime.

Profitability Timeline

The timeline for a wind turbine to become profitable can vary quite a bit depending on the size of the turbine, electricity rates, government incentives, and other factors. However, most sources suggest it takes around 7-10 years for a wind turbine to pay for itself and become profitable.

According to the Department of Energy, the typical payback period for a utility-scale wind turbine installed before 2010 was around 6 years. For more recent utility-scale wind projects, the payback period is estimated to be longer, around 7-10 years on average.

For smaller wind turbines under 100 kW generating capacity, the payback period is often 12-20 years without incentives according to NREL. With federal, state, or utility incentives, the payback period for smaller turbines can potentially be reduced to 6-10 years.

So in most cases, wind turbine owners need to be prepared for an initial investment that takes 7-10 years to pay off through energy sales. But once paid off, the turbine will continue generating revenue over its lifetime of 20-25 years.

Average Financial Return

The average annual income from a single wind turbine can vary greatly depending on several factors like turbine size, energy production capacity, location, and energy purchase agreements. However, most sources estimate the average annual income from a single utility-scale wind turbine to be in the range of $15,000 to $50,000 per year (1).

According to one source, a 1.5 MW turbine can generate over 5 million kWh of electricity annually. At an average utility purchase rate of 5-8 cents per kWh, the gross annual revenue from a single utility-scale turbine would be $250,000 to $400,000 (2). After accounting for operating costs and financing payments, the net annual income per turbine may range from $100,000 to $200,000 for a utility-scale project.

Smaller distributed wind turbines in the 50-100 kW range may generate $15,000 to $40,000 in annual gross revenue. After costs, the net income could be $5,000 to $20,000 per year for a distributed wind project (1).

So in summary, the average annual income from a single wind turbine over its 20-30 year lifespan is likely to fall somewhere in the range of $15,000 to $50,000 after all costs are accounted for.




In summary, wind turbines require substantial upfront costs for purchase, transportation, and installation that can total over $1 million per megawatt of capacity. Ongoing maintenance averages around $10,000-15,000 per year per turbine. Land leasing costs depend on the location but often range from $5,000-10,000 per year. The amount of energy produced and revenue generated depends on wind speeds, utility rates, and power purchase agreements, but a typical 2 MW turbine can produce over 6 million kWh annually, generating around $600,000 in revenue. After 6-10 years, the turbine has usually generated enough revenue to offset the initial capital costs and starts to become profitable. Over a 20-30 year lifespan, an individual wind turbine can produce over $1-2 million in net profit on average after all costs are accounted for. However, profitability varies substantially based on the project size, location, incentives, and financing.

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