UK Offshore Wind Blows Past 2020 Cost Reduction Target

The cost of energy from offshore wind has fallen by 32% since 2012 and is now below the joint UK government and industry target of GBP 100 per megawatt hour (MWh) four years ahead of schedule, according to a report delivered by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult on behalf of the Offshore Wind Programme Board (OWPB).

Source: ORE Catapult

The report also shows high industry confidence of continued rapid cost reduction to below levels set by any other large-scale, low-carbon energy source, ORE Catapult said.

The target, set in 2012, was expected to be met by 2020, but wind farms given final investment decision in 2015/16 are already achieving prices lower than this target, according to the third annual Cost Reduction Monitoring Framework (CRMF) report.

The industry is now focusing on further cost reduction, growth and job creation, says the report.

“The UK’s leadership in offshore wind clearly demonstrates that it is an attractive destination for renewable energy investment. This growing industry will be an important part of the Government’s new industrial strategy, and will be underpinned by £730m of annual support for renewable energy over the course of this Parliament,” UK Energy Minister, Jesse Norman, said.

“Thanks to the efforts of developers, the UK’s vigorous supply chain and support from Government, renewables costs are continuing to fall. Offshore wind will continue to help the UK to meet its climate change commitments, as well as delivering jobs and growth across the country.”

Offshore wind costs have fallen sharply through the adoption of larger turbines, increased competition and lower cost of capital. Projects are reaching a Final Investment Decision (FID) in 2015/16 with an average Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of GBP 97/MWh, compared to GBP 142/MWh in 2010/11.

The report also reveals that UK content and jobs are a significant focus for the UK’s offshore wind sector, with the industry working hard to maximise its UK economic benefit. Supply chain plans required under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) process are now delivering significant growth for UK manufacturing, and the report identifies further potential to increase both UK content and jobs through a more coordinated approach to industrial strategy.

“Offshore wind is a big success story at the very heart of the UK’s industrial strategy. The industry is cutting costs much faster than predicted, while creating thousands of jobs and stimulating investment nationwide,” Co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), Benj Sykes, said.

“But this is a story that is just beginning. We remain committed to delivering further significant cost reduction, while working in partnership with Government to put in place a Sector Deal and build a sustainable industry that will benefit the UK for decades to come. Our industry’s goal is to be cost competitive with other generation sources, and this new data shows that ambition is realistic and that we are well on the way to achieving it.”