Is It Good To Invest In Wind Turbines?

Is it good to invest in wind turbines?

Wind turbines are devices that use the kinetic energy of wind to generate electricity. The global installation of wind turbines has grown rapidly over the past decade, with over 906 GW of wind capacity installed worldwide as of 2022. [1] This growth is driven by improvements in wind turbine technology, cost reductions, and government incentives for renewable energy. With wind power expanding its share of electricity generation, an important question arises – is investing in wind turbines a good idea? This article examines the costs, incentives, energy production, profitability, environmental benefits, and other factors to consider when deciding whether wind turbines are a worthwhile investment.

Costs of Wind Turbines

The upfront costs of building and installing a wind turbine can be substantial. According to Renewable Systems, the average cost per kilowatt for a commercial-scale wind turbine in 2022 was between $1,150 and $2,720 ( This means a common 2 megawatt turbine would cost between $2.3 million and $5.4 million upfront. The specific costs vary based on the size, type and height of the turbine.

There are also permitting costs to account for, which can be up to 1% of the total project cost according to Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported ( Installation, transportation and other soft costs can also add tens of thousands of dollars per turbine.

In terms of ongoing maintenance and operations, wind turbines require regular preventative maintenance and repairs which cost on average $20,000-25,000 per year according to The Tech Junkies. Major component replacements may be needed every 5-20 years as well (

Government Incentives

There are several financial incentives offered by federal and state governments to encourage wind turbine projects. These include tax credits, grants, and other forms of financial support.

The federal Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) provides a tax credit per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by qualified renewable energy sources like wind turbines. The PTC has helped drive growth in wind energy since it was established in 1992 (FasterCapital).

Many states also offer production incentives or investment tax credits for wind projects. For example, New York offers grants covering up to 50% of eligible project costs through its NYSERDA program (Energy5).

The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses install renewable energy systems like wind turbines.

Taking advantage of these incentives can improve the financial viability of wind turbine projects by reducing upfront capital costs. However, incentives vary by location and over time, so it’s important to research the latest opportunities.

Energy Production

The average capacity factor for wind turbines in the U.S. is around 35-45%, though some reach capacity factors upwards of 50% (Energy Numbers, CleanTechnica). Capacity factor refers to the percentage of actual energy output compared to maximum potential output. This means a 1 MW wind turbine with a 35% capacity factor would produce around 306,600 kWh of electricity per year on average.

While the wind speed at a particular site plays a role, modern wind turbines are designed to generate optimal energy at moderate wind speeds. Improvements in turbine technology are contributing to higher capacity factors over time. The average capacity factor depends on multiple factors like location, turbine size, and hub height.

The energy output from wind turbines fluctuates naturally based on wind patterns. But aggregating output across large wind farms helps create a more consistent and reliable energy supply. Wind energy production can be forecast accurately to further aid grid integration and planning.


The profitability of wind turbines depends largely on the payback period and return on investment (ROI). The payback period refers to the amount of time it takes to recoup the initial investment costs of installing a wind turbine. According to one study, payback periods for small wind turbines under 100kW range from 6-15 years ( Larger utility-scale wind turbines over 1MW may have slightly shorter payback periods of 5-10 years.

ROI measures the amount of profit earned relative to the investment costs. One tool for calculating wind turbine ROI is the Windcube calculator which estimates ROI based on energy usage ( Studies show wind turbine ROI can be maximized through proper turbine selection, siting, maintenance and power optimization (

Cash flows from wind turbines come from the sale of generated electricity. Revenues must exceed ongoing operations and maintenance costs for a wind project to maintain positive cash flow. Wind turbines have very low fuel costs compared to fossil fuel generators, but cash flows can vary depending on factors like wind resource, power purchase agreements, and tax incentives.

Environmental Benefits

Wind turbines provide significant environmental benefits by generating clean energy without emitting greenhouse gases. According to the Department of Energy, “wind turbines in the United States in 2019 offset an estimated 42 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions” ( Unlike fossil fuel power plants, wind turbines produce electricity without burning fuels and generating pollution.

Every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by a wind turbine results in avoided carbon dioxide emissions. Wind energy helps combat climate change by displacing electricity generation from fossil fuels and reducing the carbon footprint of energy production. The carbon offset from using wind power instead of coal or natural gas is substantial. The Department of Energy estimates that “over the lifetime of the current U.S. fleet of wind turbines, displaced emissions are equal to eliminating the emissions from over 43 million cars—nearly equivalent to taking all cars off U.S. roads” (

Overall, wind energy represents a clean, renewable source of electricity that can play a major role in transitioning away from fossil fuels. The environmental benefits of displacing carbon-intensive generation make investing in wind turbines an impactful way to advance sustainability and fight climate change.

Location Considerations

When investing in wind turbines, one of the most important factors to consider is location. Optimal locations for wind turbines tend to be in areas with consistently high wind speeds, such as hills, gaps in mountains, plains, and coastal regions. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), coastal areas and the Great Plains region tend to have the best wind resources in the United States.

Investors need to decide whether they want to build wind turbines onshore (on land) or offshore (in bodies of water). Offshore wind farms allow access to stronger and more consistent winds, but they are generally more expensive to construct and maintain. According to the American Geosciences Institute, shallow water locations close to shore tend to be ideal for offshore wind farms.

Onshore wind turbines require large areas of available land and permits from landowners. Farms, ranches, and other private properties with acreage as well as public lands can be suitable for onshore wind projects. Investors should research local wind patterns and permit requirements when evaluating potential onshore locations.

Overall, the best locations for wind turbines combine high average wind speeds (Class 3 or higher), available land access, proximity to existing transmission lines, favorable zoning and permitting, and community acceptance. Careful site selection optimizes energy production and profitability of wind projects.

Permitting and Regulations

Installing a wind turbine comes with permitting requirements that vary by location. Zoning laws will dictate where a wind turbine can be placed on a property. Many areas have zoning restrictions against wind turbines in residential areas or height restrictions that limit turbine size.

Required permits usually include a building permit, electrical permit, and zoning variance. A building permit ensures the turbine’s foundation and structure meet local standards. An electrical permit is needed to connect the turbine to the grid or a residence. A zoning variance may be required if the turbine violates height or setback rules.

To connect to the electric grid, an interconnection agreement with the local utility is mandatory. The utility will study grid impacts and specify technical requirements like safety disconnects. There may also be fees for grid upgrades to handle the turbine’s power. The interconnection process can take months to complete.

Overall, permitting for wind turbines can be complex. Consulting local zoning codes and working closely with permitting agencies is highly recommended when planning a turbine project. Strict regulations, costs, and paperwork are common obstacles to installing home wind turbines in some areas (, 2024).

Community Acceptance

One of the biggest challenges facing wind power projects is gaining community acceptance. Visual impacts and noise concerns are commonly cited issues that create opposition to proposed wind farms.

Many residents express apprehension about how wind turbines may aesthetically impact the landscape and disrupt views. The large size and number of turbines needed to produce utility-scale amounts of electricity can make wind farms highly visible across wide areas (Source). Strategic site selection and layout design can help mitigate visual effects.

Wind turbines also generate noise as the blades rotate through the air. This aerodynamic noise along with mechanical noise from internal machinery can annoy those living nearby. Advances in turbine technology have helped reduce noise levels over time. Careful acoustical modeling, siting choices, and noise reduction features can further minimize disturbance (Source).

While visual and noise impacts are commonly discussed drawbacks, wind projects also offer benefits like local job creation and tax revenue. Constructing, operating, and maintaining wind farms requires skilled laborers and technicians. Rural communities can gain steady employment opportunities from hosting wind power projects (Source). Additionally, wind farm developers provide new tax income to local governments and landowners.


In conclusion, investing in wind turbines has both advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully weighed. On the pro side, wind turbines provide clean, renewable energy and can generate significant revenues from energy sales. The declining costs of turbines and government incentives also improve profitability. However, wind turbines require high upfront costs and suitable locations to be profitable. Permitting and regulations can also pose challenges. Community acceptance is also a key consideration.

Overall, for landowners with ample wind resources, sufficient startup capital, and the ability to secure permits, wind turbines can be a smart investment. The long-term energy revenues and environmental benefits often outweigh the costs and difficulties. However, conducting thorough research and analysis for a specific location is critical. For individuals unable to secure ideal conditions and financing, wind turbines are likely not the best investment at this time. With careful planning and preparation, wind turbines can provide reliable returns for decades to come.

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