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Committee On Climate Change Admit Wind Power Is Dearer Than CCGT

July 11, 2016

By Paul Homewood  



You may remember claims a few weeks ago from Renewable UK, the lobby group for renewable energy, that onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new generation in Britain.

As I showed in this post at the time, the claims were simply bunkum. The cost of onshore wind in reality is currently around twice the price of CCGT.

It seems that John Gummer’s Committee on Climate Change agrees with me! 



When the CCC published their Technical Report for the Fifth Carbon Budget last November, they also released the supporting data in Excel files. Figure 2.3 of the Chapter 2 – Power includes the following:


Figure 2.3 Expected costs of generation by technology (2020, 2025, 2030)



The above are the expected costs for new plant commissioned in 2020, but based on 2014 prices.

Even under the “High Tech and Gas price” scenario, the cost of CCGT is only £73/MWh, excl carbon costs. If we assume a central scenario, which is far more realistic, the cost falls to £55.50/MWh.

By contrast, the central scenario for onshore wind is £84.50, which is in line with current CfD contracts. New/better technology MAY reduce wind power to £67/MWh by 2020, but that is not the case at the moment.


If we fast forward to 2030, we find that little has changed.

Central cases give costs of £57.50 and £81.50/MWh for CCGT and onshore wind respectively:




As I pointed out before, the trick employed by Renewable UK and other proponents is to add a carbon price onto the cost of CCGT. In order for onshore wind to appear competitive, a “Target Consistent” carbon price of £78/tonne needs to be charged by 2030, adding approximately £59/MWh to the price of gas generation, effectively doubling the cost. (The current market price for carbon is £18/tonne).

Even then, wind power costs do not allow for the cost of providing standby capacity, which the CCC estimate at £10/MWh.


It is worth looking in more detail at the gas price assumptions, which underpin the above numbers. Below is the chart from Figure 1.6, of Chapter 1 – Overview. Again, bear in mind these are at 2014 prices.




The central scenario for 2015 was assumed to be 45 pence per therm. According to Catalyst Energy Solutions, who provide industry data, annual prices for gas are running at around 40 pence.

All three scenarios predict that prices during the 2020s will rise above current levels.

Nobody knows what the future holds, but, as I mentioned earlier, the central scenario does not appear to be unreasonable. But even under the high price option, CCGT still remains competitive with wind, not to mention solar and other low carbon alternatives.





  1. David Richardson permalink
    July 11, 2016 7:48 pm

    “The cost of onshore wind in reality is currently around twice the price of CCGT.”

    Yes Paul, but that is before the smoke and mirrors have been applied.

  2. July 11, 2016 8:20 pm

    APlanningEngineer and I did a guest post at Judy Curry’s CE some months ago called True Cost of Wind. (APE is a senior utility exec with a grid engineering background.) It exposed all the ‘cheats’ used by the US government’s EIA to ‘show’ onshore wind LCOE was competitive with Coal and CCGT. The cheats included a hidden carbon tax, incorrect plant lives, incorrect capacity factors, failure to account for intermittent wind backup, and failure to account for wind subsidies. Correctly calculated, wind was almost 3x CCGT: about $144/MWh versus about $58/MWh. I suspect the difference to CCC’s UK estimate is mainly the cost of natural gas fuel for CCGT; US prices are substantially lower than UK prices.

  3. July 11, 2016 8:33 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Some real world numbers from the CCC on Gas Vs Low Carbon energy costs.

  4. CheshireRed permalink
    July 11, 2016 9:28 pm

    Paul, as an exercise in showing true figures would it be possible to do a comparison WITHOUT taxes, tariffs, carbon-costs and other summary DECC BS included?

    You could show the pre-BS prices, thus showing the public what the REAL production costs are before added taxes are thrown in to distort prices.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 12, 2016 12:22 pm

      The distortions don’t just come from taxes. It’s also all the extra grid costs in linking wind to markets that are almost always left completely out of account. Roughly speaking, the investment in the grid is having to double in order to cater for the inappropriate location of wind farms relative to centres of demand – and that’s just for present levels of penetration. Put another way, grid charges are now close to half the delivered cost of power in domestic bills.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle permalink
    July 11, 2016 10:05 pm

    Here’s a little bit of arithmetic which illustrates the problem.

    If the wind is producing less than half of the electricity of a combination wind-OCGT package then it is cheaper to shut down those wind turbines and go fully CCGT.

    That is because fast response open cycle gas turbines are only half as efficient as CCGT. So for the same amount of gas CCGT can produce twice the electricity with no difference in CO2 emission rates.

    This is simplistic of course as the backup generation mix is some open-cycle and some closed-cycle. But it does show the huge cost of the issue of intermittency.

  6. July 12, 2016 2:32 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Like the old sailors say, “The wind is free, but everything else costs money” – lots and lots of it.

  7. July 12, 2016 5:25 am

    The cost of wind power has probably been underestimated because the economic life of the turbines have been over-stated.

    The gap between stated prospective asset life and what will prove to be realized asset life will be greater for offshore turbines.

    • R2Dtoo permalink
      July 12, 2016 5:36 pm

      Wind power has been around for a long time. Surely, the costs of maintenance and turbine life are known. Has anyone looked at this, or are the data kept secret?

      • July 12, 2016 8:22 pm

        Yes. Some units are seeing operational lives of 12-15 years when design spec is typically 20. With extensive maintenance, some can reach 25. These are usually older smaller units. The principle problem is main bearing cracking. Inherent in differential windspeed with height; the bearing rollers are never evenly loaded. The bigger (taller) the turbine the worse the problem and the greater the cracking forces. If not detected and repaired, leads to catastrophic failure. Becomes an economic question whether the expensive bearing replacement (dismount blades, dismount nacelle, send back to factory) is worth it given remaining life. We had this information in the true cost of wind post. Five year crack justifies replacement. 15 year crack may not. The biggest typical onshore 2.5-3MW units have been around since about 2005, so information is accumulating rapidly now. There is quite a literature on wind turbine bearing issues, but when we wrote the post there were no obvious simple engineering solutions.

  8. July 12, 2016 9:15 am

    Good new tip from Phillip Bratby
    “You can now get an alert for the daily DECC in the Media blog.
    Today’s topics are interconnectors and tidal lagoons.”

    • Joe Public permalink
      July 12, 2016 10:37 am

      Thanks SG

  9. Andrew Duffin permalink
    July 12, 2016 10:08 am

    “(The current market price for carbon is £18/tonne)”

    At the risk of being a pedant, I must point out that this is completely artificial construct and bears no resemblance to anything remotely like a real market.

    But we all know that.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 12, 2016 12:24 pm

      Yes, the correct description is Osborne’s Carbon Floor Price tax.

  10. July 12, 2016 1:11 pm

    Meanwhile, back on the Natural Gas-University of Cincinnati Ranch, their much ballyhooed 2015 study “showing” that fracking caused pollution which could lead to cancer, had to be retracted. Oops, their data DID NOT show that afterall in the study which they put out w/in 3 months. However, the study showing no evidence for the hoped-for ground water contamination, has yet to be published after a year.

    As Alice would say, “curiouser and curiouser.” Or maybe not.

  11. July 12, 2016 1:15 pm

    CCA are tripping Future Heatwaves page2.thetimes build-homes-with-shutters-to-save-us-from-global-warming

    7,000 deaths/year normal from 2050
    “Homes should be fitted with French-style shutters or the number of premature deaths from heatwaves could triple, the government’s climate change advisory body says.

    The 2003 heatwave, when the temperature reached a record 38.5C in Kent, will become the norm in summer by the 2040s, according to the committee on climate change’s assessment of the risks to the UK from global warming.

    Modern buildings, including flats, hospitals and care homes, are at greater risk of overheating because they are designed to retain heat in winter rather than stay cool in summer, it says.”

    • July 12, 2016 1:38 pm

      Same paper page 25 a story seems to come from solar PR press release :In May solargenerated more than coal 1.38TWh
      Report quotes 3.3% reduction in UK CO2 is due to renewables
      BS cos renewables cause increases

  12. July 12, 2016 2:55 pm

    ‘The 2003 heatwave, when the temperature reached a record 38.5C in Kent, will become the norm in summer by the 2040s’

    At 53 degrees North? Dream on.

  13. Rowland Pantling permalink
    July 12, 2016 3:45 pm

    Whenever government legislates to force an economic outcome, the long term effect will be equal and opposite to that intended. Newton’s Law of Government Regulations.

  14. July 12, 2016 5:39 pm
    Harrabin has been making himself more ridiculous than ever on BBC news all day:

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