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Wind power is developing rapidly on both a European and global level. Over the past 15 years, the global installed capacity of wind power increased from around 2.5 GW in 1992 to just over 94 GW at the end of 2007, an average annual growth of more than 25%. Owing to ongoing improvements in turbine efficiency and higher fuel prices, wind power is becoming economically competitive with conventional power production, and at sites with high wind speeds on land, wind power is considered to be fully commercial.

This part of the report focuses on the economics of wind power. The investment and cost structures of land-based and offshore turbines are discussed. The cost of electricity produced is also addressed, which takes into account the lifetime of turbines and O&M costs, and the past and future development of the costs of wind-generated power is analysed. In subsequent chapters, the importance of finance, support schemes and employment issues are discussed. Finally, the cost of wind generated electricity is compared to the cost of conventional fossil fuel-fired power plants.

Wind power is used in a number of different applications, including grid-connected and stand-alone electricity production and water pumping. This part analyses the economics of wind energy, primarily in relation to grid-connected turbines, which account for the vast bulk of the market value of installed turbines.

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