How Quickly Do Wind Turbines Pay For Themselves?

  • By: Preetam
  • Date: August 21, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Environmentalists around the world are looking to install more sources of renewable energy. But how much do these sources cost and how quickly do wind turbines pay for themselves?

A wind turbine takes on average 6 years to pay for itself. But the exact payback period is dependent on many variables. 

Wind turbines are a great source of renewable energy. But how long does it take for a turbine to pay back the initial costs? There’s more on this to come in the next section of this article.

How Long Does It Take for Wind Turbines to Make Money?

On average, it takes 6 years for a wind turbine to make money. Now, you might think that 6 years is a really long time for something to become profitable. 

But it’s good to remember that wind turbines have a life expectancy of at least 20 years. Calculating how long a wind turbine takes to make money is dependent on a few factors. 

Here are some of them:

  • The size of the wind turbine
  • The location of the wind turbine
  • The construction price and the cost of local materials
  • The price of electricity in the area
  • The average wind speed at the site

As you can see from the list above, many factors can alter how quickly a wind turbine begins to make money. 

They can make it take longer for a wind turbine to make money or reduce the time it takes. Here’s a rundown of how each factor affects the wind turbine’s payback time. 

FactorThe wind turbine will take longer to make moneyThe wind turbine will make money faster
Larger wind turbine (9.5 MW)
Smaller wind turbine (1.5 MW)
Infrastructure must be built near the turbine
Infrastructure is already in place near the turbine
The local price of electricity is high
The local price of electricity is low
There is a high wind speed at the site
There is a low wind speed at the site

How Much Money Can You Make From a Wind Turbine?

Is owning a wind turbine a lucrative career? Perhaps you are wondering just how much money you could make from a wind turbine. 

On average, you are looking to make between $3,000 and $5,000 per wind turbine. If you have a more powerful wind turbine with over 2MW you can expect to make more than $10,000 a year. 

Of course, we have spoken a lot about averages here. But why are we so general when talking about how much revenue a wind turbine can make? Because there are so many factors that can alter how successful a wind turbine is in the field. 

All of these factors can make your wind turbine make more or less money. Let’s take a look at what these are. 

  • The size of the wind turbine. You can make more money in the long run from a larger turbine but it will cost more initially to build.
  • The location of the wind turbine. You will make less money if you have to build a lot of infrastructure at the site. Wind turbines are often placed far away from houses. This means a power plant, distribution lines, and roads will need to be built so that you can access and maintain the turbine.
  • The construction price and cost of local materials. If the materials and labor in your area are expensive, it will take you longer to earn money from the turbine.
  • The price of electricity. If the local price of electricity is high, you will be able to make more money. If it is low, you will make less. 
  • The average wind speed at the site. The faster the turbine spins the more electricity it will generate. So, if yours is in the right windy spot, it will make more money, faster.
How Long Does It Take for a Wind Turbine to Break Even?

How Long Does It Take for a Wind Turbine to Break Even?

Now here’s an interesting question. How long does it take for a wind turbine to break even? We could answer this in two different ways. 

The first is how long it will take for you to pay back the manufacturing costs of building a wind turbine. 

The second is how long it will take for the wind turbine to become energy neutral. Let’s look at these one at a time. 

It will take on average 6 years for you to pay off a wind turbine. 6 years is considered the average when we are talking about the manufacturing costs of the turbine. 

This is because of the price of the materials, the labor, and the unit’s location. It even includes the fact that you may have to build an entire infrastructure near the turbine so you can access it for maintenance.

A wind turbine will take 4 to 7 months to become energy neutral. This is the length of time it needs to pay back more energy than it uses. In high winds, a turbine could become energy neutral in as little as 4 months. 

In low winds, this could take 7 months or longer. Of course, this is all dependent on the size of the wind turbine.

What Is the Life Expectancy of a Wind Turbine?

A wind turbine is an expensive installment. But once you’ve got yours in place, you can expect it to last a long time. 

But just how long are we talking? You can expect a modern wind turbine to last 20 years. But, if the turbine is maintained well it can last up to 25 years or even longer. 

The repair costs for the turbine will increase with its age.

You should perform preventative maintenance checks on your wind turbine at least 2 to 3 times a year. 

But, it’s not just good maintenance that will make the unit last longer. Many environmental factors will also affect its life expectancy. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of these. 

  • Intense turbulence. Turbines are designed to shut down when wind speeds go above the turbine’s capacity. But even with this feature in place, intense turbulence is still destructive for turbines.
  • Moving component damage. The rotor blades are subject to fatigue as the turbine gets older. Repairing these parts becomes more expensive with the age of the unit.
  • Damage from objects. The wind turbine can suffer damage if struck frequently by birds and other objects striking them. Lightning strikes and extreme weather are also very destructive. 
  • Current and wave monopiles. These slowly contribute to the deterioration of a wind turbine. Turbines located offshore require more maintenance. 
How Much Money Can You Make From a Wind Turbine?

Do Farmers Get Paid to Have Wind Turbines on Their Land?

Have you seen a farm that recently had a wind turbine installed on it? Wind turbines are a bit of an eye sore, so this might make you wonder why someone would have one installed on their property. Some wind turbines are private and are providing electricity for a home. 

These are good at reducing household bills. But what about those installed on farms?

Farmers and landowners are paid to have wind turbines installed on their land. Energy providers are constantly surveying land in order to find the best locations for wind farms. 

If they spot the right location they will talk to the property owner to begin a wind farm lease. What makes the right location? 

Here are just a couple of things developers look for. 

  • The land must be free from wind obstructing obstacles. The land owner will need to agree to keep the land just as it is.
  • There must be a wind speed of at least 4.5 m/s (meters per second) at the site
  • The property must be in a location where there is a need for energy
  • There must be at least 60 acres of land per MW produced

This lease is an agreement between the developer and the property owner. The lease gives the energy provider the right to build a wind farm on the land. 

The property owner is compensated by payments from the developer. This can amount to thousands of dollars per year. 

If the land owner has a number of wind turbines on their property, it could become very lucrative for them. 

Final Thoughts

Wind turbines are expensive structures that require a lot of planning and infrastructure. But the need for more renewable energy sources is higher than ever before. 

With this in mind you may wonder, how quickly do wind turbines pay for themselves?

As we have seen in this article, a wind turbine can pay for itself in about 6 years. But exactly how long it will take depends heavily on the size, location, and local costs of labor and materials. 

Either way, a modern wind turbine is a great source of power that is mostly recyclable at the end of its life. 

That’s right, they are key to looking after the planet and powering our future.

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