Is Investing In Wind Turbines A Good Investment?

Wind turbines are devices that convert the kinetic energy of wind into electrical energy. They have seen tremendous growth in recent years as a source of renewable energy. According to the Center for Sustainable Systems, global wind capacity increased by 12% annually on average from 2012 to 2022, reaching 906 GW in 2022. The International Energy Agency reports that in 2022, wind electricity generation increased by a record 265 TWh (up 14%), reaching more than 2,100 TWh. This makes wind energy one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy globally.

Costs of Wind Turbines

The upfront costs to purchase and install a wind turbine can be substantial, ranging from $2,000 to $80,000 for a residential system ( Commercial-scale wind turbines tend to be much more expensive with costs starting around $1.3 million for a 1.5 MW turbine (

For residential applications, costs depend heavily on the size of turbine chosen, location, installation complexity, permitting and other site-specific factors. For a 10 kW residential turbine, typical costs fall between $60,000 and $120,000 installed ( This includes the tower, equipment, installation labor, permits and grid integration hardware. Going with a smaller 1-3 kW turbine can reduce upfront costs to $10,000 – $30,000.

For commercial wind farms, the installed cost per MW of capacity ranges from around $1.3 million to $2.2 million. The turbines themselves represent about 75% of the total project cost. Other factors like site access, foundations, electrical infrastructure and installation add to the overall price tag.

Government Incentives

The government provides various incentives to encourage investment in wind turbines. The main incentive is a tax credit known as the production tax credit (PTC), which gives investors a credit against their federal income tax for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by a qualified wind turbine. According to Faster Capital, “To benefit from government incentives for wind turbines, there are several things to consider. Here are some key points to keep in mind: 1. Understand the requirements to qualify for tax credits like the PTC” (Source). The PTC can offset up to 30% of project costs.

State and local governments may also offer additional incentives like sales tax exemptions, property tax reductions, grant programs, and rebate programs for wind projects. These can further improve the economics of a wind energy investment. However, the availability and value of state/local incentives varies significantly across different regions.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency provides a comprehensive overview of available federal and state incentives. Investors should thoroughly research the incentives available for a wind project’s specific location. Properly utilizing government incentives is key to achieving an attractive return on investment.

Energy Production

The amount of energy a wind turbine can produce depends on several factors like the turbine’s power rating, wind speeds, and capacity factor. According to a ScienceDirect report, a 3.3 MW turbine can produce around 8,878 MWh/year, a 7 MW turbine can produce 17,520 MWh/year, and an 8 MW turbine can produce 20,448 MWh/year. The capacity factor, which measures how much energy is actually produced compared to maximum possible production, is estimated between 20-40% for onshore turbines and higher for offshore. With higher wind speeds offshore, energy production can be over 50% greater than onshore wind farms.

Overall global wind energy production has increased substantially in recent years. According to Statista, global wind energy production in 2018 was 1,271 TWh and is projected to reach around 2,110 TWh by 2021. The leading regions for wind energy production are Asia, Europe, and North America.


Maintenance is an ongoing expense for wind turbines after they are built and installed. According to Wind Turbine Cost: How Much? Are They Worth It in 2023?, maintenance costs are estimated to be 1-2 cents per kilowatt-hour produced, or around $42,000 – $48,000 per year. Proper maintenance is critical to maximize uptime and energy production. Maintenance activities include inspecting components and systems, performing diagnostics, replacing worn parts, and tuning the turbine.

One way to optimize maintenance costs is through predictive maintenance and monitoring systems, as discussed in Optimizing Wind Turbine Maintenance Costs with Predictive Maintenance. These can identify issues before failure and allow for more targeted maintenance. However, the systems do have upfront and ongoing costs themselves. Overall, maintenance remains an essential ongoing operating cost for wind turbines over their lifespan.

Land Leases

One way landowners can earn income from wind turbines is by leasing their land to wind energy companies for turbine placement. According to Landgate, wind turbine land lease rates can vary depending on factors like location, wind quality, and negotiations. However, Landgate reports typical base rates ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 per turbine per year. Payments generally increase by a fixed percentage each year too.

According to Boythorpe Wind Energy, land lease rates in the UK average around £5,000 per turbine per year. Rates range from £2,000 to £8,000. Landowners may also get a share of the turbine’s revenue on top of base lease payments.

Overall, leasing land to wind farm operators can provide landowners with a stable source of income over the lifespan of a wind turbine, which is typically 20-25 years. Careful contract negotiation is important to ensure favorable lease terms and rates.


Wind turbines can generate significant revenues through the sale of the electricity they produce. According to Energy5, the amount of revenue generated by a wind turbine depends on several factors like the size of the turbine, wind speeds in the area, electricity prices, and any renewable energy incentives or policies. Onshore wind turbines in prime locations can generate over 6 million kWh per year, with revenues over $600,000 annually. Larger utility-scale turbines can produce over 15 million kWh and over $1.5 million in annual revenues.

Revenues also depend on electricity prices and power purchase agreements with utilities. Long-term contracts can provide more revenue stability. According to a Purdue University study, Benton County, Indiana received $4.3 million in property tax revenue from wind turbines in 2019, or $492 per resident. Overall, wind turbines can provide substantial and predictable revenues through electricity sales if sited in areas with good wind resources.

Payback Period

The payback period for a wind turbine investment refers to the amount of time it takes to recoup the upfront costs through energy production revenues. This is a key factor to consider when evaluating the financial viability of a wind turbine project.

According to research, the typical payback period for a commercial-scale wind turbine is 5-10 years on average (Source). However, this can vary substantially based on the size of the turbine, wind resource at the site, electricity prices, and available tax credits or incentives. Larger utility-scale turbines tend to have faster payback periods of around 5 years, while smaller residential turbines may take 10-20 years to break even (Source).

Key factors that impact the payback period include the upfront capital and installation costs, the amount of clean electricity generated over time, maintenance costs, the lifetime of the turbine, and any revenues from sales of excess electricity back to the grid. Ongoing operation and maintenance costs are relatively low for wind turbines compared to the high initial investment.

Understanding the estimated payback period helps determine if a wind turbine installation will be a financially viable long-term investment at a specific site. Investors generally look for payback periods of 10 years or less when considering major capital projects like utility-scale wind farms.

Risks & Challenges

Investing in wind turbines does come with some risks and challenges that should be considered. One major risk is the variability of wind. Wind speeds can fluctuate seasonally and annually, which affects the amount of energy produced. Some locations simply have wind resources that are too inconsistent for turbines to be economically viable. Investors need to carefully assess the wind data for any potential site.

Changes to government renewable energy incentives and policies can also impact revenues and return on investment. In some areas, wind farm operators receive extra revenue from government programs that provide payments or tax credits for renewable energy generation. If these programs are reduced or eliminated, it could significantly alter the financial projections.

Local regulations and permitting require patience and upfront legal costs. It can take months or even years to get approval to construct a new wind farm. Lawsuits from local groups are also a possibility. Investors need the expertise to navigate zoning laws, environmental regulations, aviation rules, and other red tape.

Ongoing maintenance and repairs are crucial but costly for wind turbines. Major components like blades and gearboxes wear down over time and need replacement. Turbines also require preventative upkeep and servicing which requires technical staff. If maintenance is deferred, it can lead to expensive unplanned outages and downtime.

According to research from, while wind power investment offers significant upside, the risks require careful evaluation and planning by investors. Partnering with experienced wind farm developers can help mitigate some of these challenges.


Investing in wind turbines can be a good investment opportunity if done right. The upfront costs of purchasing and installing the turbines can be high, but government incentives like tax credits can help offset those expenses. Once up and running, wind turbines can generate steady revenues by selling the electricity they produce. However, to see a good return on investment, factors like securing land leases in windy areas, minimizing maintenance costs, and negotiating favorable power purchase agreements need to be considered.

While wind power enjoys government support now, changes in renewable energy policies could impact revenues. Turbines also require regular maintenance and repairs which add to long-term costs. Overall, for landowners with the right location, wind turbines can provide stable passive income for decades after the initial investment has been recouped. But the decision requires careful analysis of costs, energy production estimates, finances, and risks over the lifetime of the turbines.

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