Two Northeastern University researchers think that wind farms could be self-sustaining operations even if the current governmental production tax credit, which pays 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, were eliminated. Anand Venkateswaran, assistant professor of finance and insurance, and Jonathan Welch, a member of the business faculty from 1977 until his death in 2009, collected and analyzed 15 years of data from approximately sixty 100-turbine wind farms. Noting that a productive wind farm generates electricity 40% of the time, or 12 days a month, Venkateswaran suggested that increasing productivity to 53%, or 16 days a month, would eliminate the need for subsidies typically needed to keep such operations afloat.
Other suggestions: “Lighter blades on the turbines would be one way to improve efficiency; siting farms in windier spots would be another," he says. "And the profitability of wind farms could also be improved if the cost of turbines, which averages approximately $3.2 million per unit, were reduced," he said.
Their work appeared in the May 2009 issue of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews:
A Northeastern University news article about the work is here: