New research published by the industry-led Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce, set up by RenewableUK, shows that onshore wind can become the most cost effective new electricity source by 2020, driving down fuel bills for households throughout the UK.
The recommendations put forward fall into four main categories: further innovation by industry, improvement to the grid connection system, ensuring the UK consenting system is functioning as it should and monitoring and sharing best practice within industry. If these changes are implemented they will make onshore wind cheaper than gas, its nearest competitor. The Taskforce’s report takes new gas power stations (combined cycle gas turbine plant) as the expected baseline for cheapest new technology in 2020 with a predicted levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of £65-75 per megawatt hour by this date. The research has shown that without the measures outlined in this report, onshore wind would struggle to get its costs below this level, though would still be the cheapest source of low carbon electricity.
The taskforce looked at three different types of site with different wind speeds and found that if their recommendations were followed, up to £21 per megawatt hour could be shaved off onshore wind’s costs. Across the three types of sites anticipated reductions from today’s costs average 22%. These reductions 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, at £62 per megawatt hour.
Chair of the taskforce Colin Morgan, business manager from DNV-GL Energy, said: “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. 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”.
Chief Executive of RenewableUK Maria McCaffery commented: “This work definitively shows the value of continuing the role of onshore wind in the UK. 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”.