A new report published in the UK has shown that onshore wind could become the most cost effective new electricity source by 2020, but only with government support.
The research, published by the industry-led Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce, set up by industry association RenewableUK, provides four recommendations across four categories which are aimed at achieving such a target:
- Focusing on “innovative and efficient technology to ensure that sites being developed are as advanced and efficient as possible”
- Driving down “the cost of connecting to the grid through value-engineering and exploiting cutting-edge technological innovation”
- Streamlining planning and approval processes “through engagement with Government on the consumer benefits of an effective planning system”
- Monitoring these targets to “ensure that best practice becomes standard practice”
The report also highlighted three different types of project sites that will provide cost benefits: high wind speed, large sites; medium wind, medium size sites; lower wind speed on a small wind site. If the recommendations put forward from this report are followed, the authors find that up to £21 per megawatt hour could be saved from onshore wind’s costs. Such reductions from today’s cost would average 22%, and would mean “that even the higher cost new wind farms would generate at a lower cost than the anticipated marginal new gas power stations, with the lowest cost onshore wind sites being £3 per megawatt hour cheaper than new gas power stations,” which sit at £62 per megawatt hour, according to RenewableUK.
“With this report we highlight that it is possible for onshore wind to be the cheapest new electricity capacity by 2020, and exactly how industry and government can work together to deliver this consumer benefit,” said the chair of the taskforce, Colin Morgan, business manager from DNV-GL Energy. “We hope to be able to take these programmes forward over the next few months to enable onshore wind to grow its role providing low carbon power for millions of homes.”
However, as BusinessGreen points out, if the upcoming UK election results in a Conservative government win, then their plans to scrap support for new onshore wind turbines could be catastrophic.
“This work definitively shows the value of continuing the role of onshore wind in the UK,” said Chief Executive of RenewableUK Maria McCaffery. “It’s already the most cost effective way to generate low carbon power, and this report shows that within the next five years onshore wind can be the most cost effective of all forms of power generation, driving down all our fuel bills. We have already seen evidence of the falling cost of onshore wind in the most recent auctions for low carbon power.”
“However, further cost reductions won’t happen if this technology is cut off at the knees by a premature withdrawal of support. We urge politicians to work with us and support onshore wind, to help the UK to cut fuel imports, rather than imposing arbitrary caps on this technology.”
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