Here is an encouraging post that indicates that the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and the Capacity Factor have improved substantially for wind power in the last two years. This has resulted from improved turbine design. Capacity factors for land based turbines are getting above 40% for land based turbines and sometimes as high as 50%. Off shore numbers are even better! As intermittent sources, there are significant restrictions on how much wind power can be integrated into the electric utilities. The higher the capacity factor, the more wind energy can be used by utilities. The more that wind can be used the more it can displace highly polluting coal plants.
Wind turbines have a rated output. That is the power they produce in optimal wind conditions. This is called their ‘Nameplate Rating’. Of course sometimes the wind speed is lower than the optimal speed and sometimes there is so little wind that the turbine doesn’t even turn. The capacity factor is equal to the total Actual Energy Produced divided by the Energy that would have been produced if the turbine operated at its Nameplate rated power 24/7.
The higher the capacity factor of wind power, the larger the percentage of wind power that can be counted as “Base Load“. Base load is primarily provided by Nuclear and Coal power plants. The more that wind can be counted as Base Load the more it can be used to replace coal fired power plants which emit the highest portion of Carbon Dioxide the biggest contributor to climate change!