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Operating Costs


In the operation of wind turbines, classic fixed costs arise, for example for the lease of the property, for insurance premiums, business and operational management and other administrative costs. The costs for maintenance and repair work are partly fixed and partly dependent on use and load. Depending on the type of service contract, maintenance costs are borne by regular payments. The operator is guaranteed a minimum availability. The amount of the payments also depends on whether major repairs or the exchange of major components are included in the contract.

The following figure illustrates the amount and composition of operating costs. The evaluation is based on the collection of 1410 annual financial statements from the years 2000 to 2013 from 219 wind energy holding companies of the tax consultant Werner Daldorf. The focus of the data is on wind farms commissioned between 1998 and 2006. The nominal costs from the respective years were increased to the cost level of 2016 with the consumer price index.






Operating costs in relation to rated capacity, cost adjusted to 2016
Data source: [Daldorf]



The operating costs increase significantly in the first years after the warranty period has expired. As of around the seventh year of operation the maintenance and repair costs account for more than half the operating costs. In relation to the rated capacity the operating costs in the first few years are € 30 / kW and after about the sixth year the reach a level of € 50 / kW. The available data is as yet insufficient for estimating the cost development in the final years of operation.


The following figures are based on the same data and show the operating costs in relation to the wind power generated for locations in coastal areas and inland. The coloured bands around median and average show the quartiles, in other words, the operating costs of half the turbines are within the range shown.




Operating costs at coastal locations

Data source: [Daldorf]






Operating costs at inland locations

Data source: [Daldorf]



The operating costs for both location categories start at about € 15 / MWh, increase over the following years of operation and reach a stable level from about the eighth year. In coastal areas this is € 25 / MWh, while the spread is greater for inland locations, reaching between € 25 / MWh and € 35 / MWh. The reason for the lower operating costs in the more wind intensive coastal areas is mainly the fixed costs degression because of the higher wind yields.