fbpx

Latest Posts

Home

Facebook

Twitter

Search
About

Minnesota’s Third-Largest Wind Farm is Already Losing Steam: Output Falls 14 percent from 2014 Highs

According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind turbines have operational lifetimes of 20 years, but it appears Xcel Energy’s Nobles wind project, the third-largest wind farm in Minnesota, is losing steam after just eight.

The graph below was produced using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration plant-level data. It shows the electricity generation of the Nobles wind project, which became operational in 2010, through 2018. You’ll notice that electricity generation peaked in 2014, and that generation was about 14 percent lower in 2018, compared to the 2014 production levels.

It is important to take note of this decline in electricity production because such reductions in output have profound implications on the levelized cost energy (LCOE) of the wind project. For those of you who are not familiar with the term LCOE, it is a figure that represents the per megawatt hour (MWh) cost of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial lifetime and the quantity of electricity generated by the plant.

We can use the permit application for the Nobles Wind Project submitted to the Department of Commerce to attain capital costs ($2,500/kw), and operating expenses (30/kw, which is lower than EIA estimates for new wind turbines), EIA data production for the capacity factors, paid over a 20 year lifetime.

The table below shows the cost of electricity increasing as the capacity factor (amount of electricity produced) falls.


As you can see, the LCOE of electricity from the Nobles wind project increases by about 17 percent over just five years as the capacity factor falls.

It will be interesting to see if other wind facilities in Minnesota show similar declines in production. If they do, the loss of generation capability must be part of the conversation about why wind and solar simply aren’t the answer for Minnesota’s energy future.

Comments

Subscribe

Categories

Upcoming Events

  • Webinar: Say NO to California Car Mandates

    Location: Online

    Sign up for this online webinar HERE! Governor Walz wants to force Minnesota drivers to comply with California’s vehicle regulations. This would make driving in Minnesota more expensive and less safe. Join Center of the American Experiment on January 28th at noon to discuss the California Car Mandates being proposed in Minnesota, and why we should oppose them. Sign up for this online webinar HERE!

    Register Now
  • Exploring Education Options in Rochester

    Location: Online Event

     Sign up HERE! For many students and families, a distance learning model has proved challenging. But there are alternative learning environments that parents are considering and pursuing to better meet the specific needs of their children. Join Catrin Wigfall, policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment, for this free online event to learn about the variety of education options available in Rochester and how giving families choices leads to better educational outcomes. Thursday, January 21 at noon CT Sign up HERE!

    Register Now