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Wind energy to be cheaper than gas in a decade, study says

A large wind turbine stands generating power next to Hull High School in the shadow of Boston Friday afternoon Feb. 24, 2006.AP

Wind power will be cheaper than electricity generated by natural gas within a decade, even without a federal tax incentive, according to a US Energy Department analysis.

Increasing wind energy to 35 percent of US electricity supplies by 2050 will cause national power prices to decline 2.2 percent and result in $400 billion in benefits related to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases. Wind energy provided 4.5 percent of US power supplies in 2013.

Cost reductions and technology improvements will reduce the price of wind power to below that of fossil-fuel generation, even after a $23 per megawatt-hour subsidy provided now to wind farm owners ends, according to a report released Thursday. That may drive up demand for turbines from companies like General Electric Co. and Vestas Wind Systems A/S.

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“Wind cost reductions do not depend on disruptive technological breakthroughs,” according to the report. Taller towers that can reacher faster winds, along with bigger rotors and advanced control systems will drive down operating costs.