Government figures, to be published by National Grid this week, are expected to show that the price paid for electricity from offshore wind farms has dropped by more than 50% in under five years. According to Greenpeace UK, this would make offshore wind the lowest cost option for large-scale, low-carbon power.
Wind turbines have more than doubled their power capacity since 2007. The current generation of 8-MW turbines have 260 foot blades. With a single rotation, these blades generate enough energy to power a home for 24 hours. The UK’s offshore wind sector has transformed over the last decade. Government support, huge strides in home-grown innovation, and increases in both turbine efficiency and blade sizes, have placed the UK as number one, globally, for installed capacity.
By the mid-2020s turbine capacities are set to double again, reaching 15 MW.
These advances in turbine technology are a big part of what has driven recent reductions in costs per megawatt hour. Offshore wind farms can be built in just two or three years, minimizing the risk of cost overruns and ensuring that technological advances are adopted quickly.
– These ongoing cost reductions show that offshore wind is in pole position to be the foremost low carbon power source, with the UK as the global market leader – said Jonathan Cole, Managing Director for Offshore Wind at ScottishPower Renewables.
The sector is already delivering thousands of jobs in regions of the UK with some of the highest unemployment figures. UK offshore wind is also attracting billions in foreign investment, and securing hundreds of international contracts for British companies. Future growth potential is enormous as the global market is set to boom over the next decade.
The UK needs a growing supply of affordable and secure energy. At this record low price, offshore wind power is a great deal for UK energy.
– If the rumors prove to be true, and the price of offshore wind power is 50% cheaper than a few years ago, we’re about to witness a revolution in UK energy. Offshore wind already powers 4 million homes in the UK and will power more than 8 million by 2020. It has also created jobs, regional development and export opportunities. And official polls show that 80% of people are in favor of offshore wind. The government needs to seize the opportunities of this great deal, which they themselves have helped to create. – said Hannah Martin, Head of Energy at Greenpeace UK.