Anyone who hangs around in the comments section of sites covering wind energy knows one thing — clean energy haters love to talk about wind turbine capacity factor. In particular, they love to chant the now quite untrue claim that wind turbines have a capacity factor of 20-30%.
If you’re not familiar with capacity factor, it is how much electricity a power plant actually produces compared to how much it would produce if it operated at full nameplate capacity 100% of the time.
No power plant operates at 100% capacity factor. NREL’s new Transparent Cost Database shows the following capacity factors:
- natural gas combustion turbines — Minimum: 10%; Median: 80%; Maximum: 93%
- natural gas combined cycle — Minimum: 40%; Median: 84.6%; Maximum: 93%
- coal, pulverized & scrubbed — Minimum: 80%; Median: 84.6%; Maximum: 93%
- nuclear — Minimum: 85%; Median: 90%; Maximum: 90.24%
- biopower — Minimum: 75%; Median: 84%; Maximum:…
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