Onshore wind 'tipped to win' electricity source battle

Onshore wind can become the most cost-effective electricity source by 2020, new research has suggested.

The Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce – set up by Renewable UK – claims that onshore wind can deliver the cheapest electricity of all power sources by 2020, driving down fuel bills across households throughout the UK.

Colin Morgan, chair of the task force, 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.”

The recommendations put forward include further innovation by the industry, improvement to the grid connection system, ensuring the UK consenting system is functioning as it should and monitoring and sharing best practice within the industry.

“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,” Morgan said.

The research suggested that by implementing the recommendations onshore wind could be cheaper than gas, its nearest competitor. New gas power stations – combined cycle gas turbine plant – were used as a benchmark in the report since it is expected to be the cheapest new technology in 2020 with a predicted cost of £65-75MWh (LCOE). However, if all the measures were to be put in action, onshore wind could get its costs below this level.

The task force looked at three different types of wind farms with different speeds and concluded that up to £21MWh could be shaved off onshore wind‘s costs. Moreover, up to 22 per cent reductions in today’s costs were anticipated for all prospective scenarios.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “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.”

The forecasted reductions would mean that even the higher cost new wind farms would generate power at a lower cost than the anticipated marginal new gas power stations, with the lowest cost onshore wind sites being £3MWh cheaper than new gas power stations at £62MWh.

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