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Operating costs


The operation of wind turbines involves classic overheads, such as the lease of the land, insurance premiums, commercial and operational management and other administrative costs. The costs of maintenance and repair are to a certain extent fixed, but some are also use and load dependent. Depending on the kind of service contract, the maintenance costs are usually covered by regular payments for which the operator is guaranteed a minimum availability. The levels of the payments depend on whether or not the contract includes major repairs and replacement of large components.


The following figure illustrates the size and composition of the operating costs. The evaluation is based on tax consultant Werner Daldorf’s compilation of 1,410 annual accounts of 219 wind energy investment companies for the years 2000 to 2013. Here the focus is on the data of wind farms commissioned between 1998 and 2006. The nominal costs from the respective years have been updated to the cost in 2016 using the consumer price index.





Operating costs in relation to rated capacity, cost adjusted to 2016
Data source:  [Rehfeldt et al. 2013]



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.