Cost-potential curves for onshore wind energy: A high-resolution analysis for Germany

R. McKenna*, S. Hollnaicher, W. Fichtner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


Germany has set itself some very ambitious targets for energy supply from renewable sources, including 80% of electricity by 2050. The favourable economic political framework for renewable technologies has led to the rapid expansion of onshore wind and other renewables in the past years. Motivated by the lack of recent studies dealing with this issue, this paper determines the current potentials and costs for onshore wind in Germany. The developed methodology allocates a wind turbine to a specific location based on the prevailing wind conditions and the surface roughness, compared to previous studies, which assume that one or two turbines is/are installed overall. Cost-potential curves for wind energy are thus generated on a highly disaggregated level (at least 1km2) based on various discount rates. The technical potential is around 860TWh/a and the associated generation costs lie in the range from 5 to 15€ct/kWh, depending upon the degree of risk-adversity and cost of capital. This implies a currently economic potential of 400-800TWh/a. The main uncertainties lie in the effect of small areas on the total potential. Further work should therefore focus on developing a clustering method for these small areas, considering the exact location of installed turbines and attempting to account for social barriers (and therefore social costs) to the development of wind energy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-115
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date27 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2014


  • Generation Costs
  • Germany
  • Onshore wind energy
  • Potential


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