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Content displaying: CAPEX

Land-Based Wind

Capital Expenditures (CAPEX)

Definition: Wind plant capital expenditures is defined to include items noted in the table above.

  • Base Year: Capital expenditures (CAPEX) associated with wind plants installed in the interior of the country are used to characterize CAPEX for hypothetical wind plants with average annual wind speeds that correspond with the median conditions for recently installed wind facilities (Stehly et al., 2019). The following chart shows historical CAPEX for land-based wind.

Future Years: To reduce the vast number of combinations of future pathways, NREL analysts defined a single future turbine configuration in 2030 to estimate cost and performance for the Conservative, Moderate, and Advanced Scenarios. The specific 2030 turbine configuration for the Moderate Scenario assumes a nameplate capacity of 5.5 MW and a rotor with a diameter of 175 m that is placed on a 120-m tower. The following chart shows the scenarios in comparison to literature projections.

The defined turbine characteristics are used to estimate the total system CAPEX of a theoretical commercial scale (e.g., 200-MW) project. Although the relatively low observed sensitivity to significantly different turbine configurations for a single reference site indicate some uncertainty need for, and value of, wind turbine tailoring for varied site conditions, it is generally expected that over the long-term wind turbine designs will be optimized for a specific plant's site conditions. In the 2020 ATB, this site-specific design optimization process, which is often reflected in different CAPEX values across wind speed classes, is simplified. The CAPEX estimates are broken into 5 bins across the 10 wind speed classes based on the average annual wind speed. In the ATB, CAPEX reflects typical plants and does not include differences in regional costs associated with labor, materials, taxes, or system requirements. The related Standard Scenarios product uses Regional CAPEX Adjustments. The range of CAPEX demonstrates variation with wind resource in the contiguous United States.

Use the following table to view the components of CAPEX.


The following references are specific to this page; for all references in this ATB, see References.

Stehly, Tyler, Beiter, Philipp, Heimiller, Donna, & Scott, George. (2019). 2018 Cost of Wind Energy Review. (No. NREL/TP-5000-74598). National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.