Robust government support for offshore wind in the short-term could make the technology viable without subsidies in a decade according to electricity firm Statkraft.
Christian Rynning-Tonnesen, chief executive of the Norwegian company, which is the largest renewable-energy producer in Europe, believes the technology could deliver power for £100/MWh under the next round of subsidies which he expects to be awarded in an auction late next year.
The most recent awards of clean-power subsidies saw guaranteed payments for offshore wind of £114 to £120 for each megawatt hour of electricity generated, more than double the wholesale electricity price and much more expensive than onshore wind farms.
"England has some of the best wind resources in the world, combined with large areas of shallow waters,” Rynning-Tonnesen said
"Offshore wind can be constructed in very large areas so the potential economy of scale is enormous to do this. We already believe that new projects that can be put into the next auction at the end of next year can reach the target of £100/MWh.”
In order to bring down costs, offshore wind turbines need to be scaled up from around 3MW to as much as 10MW. This could be achieved by constructing large wind farms with many turbines in the same area although the supply industry needs more experience working in the challenging conditions at sea.
The Conservatives announced plans to cut subsidies for onshore windfarms and give the right to decide about future large-scale projects to local communities in May.
This policy decision subsequently resulted in the scrapping of 250 onshore wind projects.
Rynning-Tonnesen urged the government to clarify its future offshore wind provisions to allow for long-term strategies from companies.
"What's important is both a strategy and a clear policy by the UK government to continue to develop offshore wind, at declining support levels but a clear strategy, and for the industry to work to get costs down.
"I think the costs will continue to go down over the next decade and by 2025 we will be able to construct without any subsidies.”
Statkraft has invested in a number of projects operating or being developed in UK waters, including Sheringham Shoal wind farm, and the planned Dogger Bank project which could power up to four million homes, as well as an interconnector with Norway.
The government’s climate advisers recently called for new green policies to be introduced to replace those that were cut over the summer.