The cost of a wind system has two components: initial installation costs and operating expenses. The initial installation cost includes the purchase price of the complete system (including tower, wiring, utility interconnection or battery storage equipment, power conditioning unit, etc.) plus delivery and installation charges, professional fees and sales tax.

The total installation cost can be expressed as a function of the wind system’s rated electrical capacity. A grid-connected residential-scale system (1-10 kW) generally costs between $2,400 and $3,000 per installed kilowatt. That’s $24,000-$30,000 for a 10 kW system. A medium-scale, commercial system (10-100 kW) is more cost-effective, costing between $1,500 and $2,500 per kilowatt. Large-scale systems of greater than l00 kW cost in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 per kilowatt, with the lowest costs achieved when multiple units are installed at one location. In general, cost rates decrease as machine capacity increases. The curve’s width reflects the range of costs available. For exact figures applicable to you, contact a manufacturer or dealer. A partial list of manufacturers and dealers can be found at Wind Turbine Manufacturers.

Remote systems with operating battery storage typically cost more, averaging between $,4,000 and $5,000 per kilowatt. Individual batteries cost from $150 to $300 for a heavy–duty, 12 volt, 220 amp-hour, deep-cycle type. Larger capacity batteries, those with higher amp–hour ratings, cost more. A 110-volt, 220 amp-hour battery storage system, which includes a charge controller, costs at least $2,000.

The other cost component, operating expenses, is incurred over the lifetime of the wind system. Operating costs include maintenance and service, insurance and any applicable taxes. A rule of thumb estimate for annual operating expenses is 2% to 3% of the initial system cost. Another estimate is based on the system’s energy production and is equivalent 1 to 2 cents per kWh of output.

Several methods can be used to determine the financial benefit of a wind system investment. We will consider two important ones, estimating the payback period, and comparing the cost per kilowatt-hour from a wind turbine to purchased electricity. These methods are more appropriate for grid-connected systems than for remote, off-grid systems.