Wind Energy Cost Could Be Up to 41% Lower by 2050

The cost of producing electricity via wind power is expected to fall 24-30 percent by 2030 and 35-41 percent by 2050, according to a new survey which covered three wind power applications: onshore wind, fixed-bottom offshore wind, and floating offshore wind.


Cost reductions are anticipated as a function of continued advancements in wind energy technology.

The findings are detailed in a new study, titled Eliciting Expert Views on Future Wind Energy Costs, published in the journal Nature Energy and conducted by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), researchers at the University of Massachusetts, and participants in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Technology Collaboration Programme Task 26.

Under a median scenario, experts anticipate 24-30 percent reductions in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) by 2030 and 35-41 percent reductions by 2050 across the three wind applications studied, relative to 2014 baseline values.

In absolute terms, onshore wind is expected to remain less expensive than offshore, at least for typical projects, and fixed-bottom offshore wind is expected to be less expensive than floating wind plants.

However, there are greater absolute reductions (and more uncertainty) in the levelized cost of energy for offshore wind compared with onshore wind and a narrowing gap between fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind, according to the study.

Experts predict that costs could be even lower as there is a 10 percent chance that reductions will be more than 40 percent by 2030 and more than 50 percent by 2050. Industry learning with market growth and aggressive R&D are noted as two key factors that might drive toward this “low cost” scenario.

At the same time, there is substantial uncertainty in these cost projections, illustrated by the range in expert views and by the “high cost” scenario in which cost reductions are modest or negligible.