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What Does Offshore Wind Power Really Cost?

February 7, 2021

By Paul Homewood

 

 See the source image

 

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, we keep being assured that offshore wind costs have tumbled to under £50/MWh.

The US Energy Information Administration however don’t agree. They regularly assess the levelised costs of all power sources, and only a year ago calculated that the cost of offshore wind was $115.04/MWh, roughly £84/MWh, at current prices.

Their figure does include transmission costs of $3.15, so excluding this we are looking at £82/MWh.

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electricity_generation

 

You cannot of course simply compare generation costs, which the EIA have done, as there are associated system costs involved, as BEIS explain:

 

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https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/beis-electricity-generation-costs-2020

 

As Table 7.1 shows, these hidden costs could range between £15 and £35/MWh for offshore wind. By contrast, CCGT actually results in lower wider system costs (note the levelised cost of £82/MWh for CCGT includes a fake carbon cost of £32/MWh).

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Adding these extra system costs on to the US costings will take the true cost of offshore wind power to £100/MWh or more.

 
32 Comments
  1. February 7, 2021 4:31 pm

    Distribution costs must be added to the generation costs. Not recognizing those costs artificially reduces the cost. I worked for a renewable energy company. We had to pay to put the energy onto the grid. As a consumer I pay connection and distribution fees. Do you get all that for free in the UK?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 8, 2021 9:46 am

      Doesn’t matter as the comparison is for getting electricity to the distribution point by generation type.

      • February 8, 2021 5:24 pm

        Disagree. Those costs could be decisive in whether peaking renewables are on line or not.

  2. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 7, 2021 5:37 pm

    I can’t but believe that many MPs, who have no idea of the inefficiency of wind farms, will look at the head photo and go. ‘WOW! That’s impressive! (how many homes is that?)’

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 8, 2021 9:47 am

      Looks like none given they don’t seem to be turning!

  3. Gamecock permalink
    February 7, 2021 7:33 pm

    For cost to be levelised, offshore wind must also pay for CCGT. Renewable absolutely requires backup. It is a quirk of the evolution of electricity generation that wind/solar have absolutely no responsibility to work, nor to cover the costs of their intermittency. This will come crashing down as they increase penetration into the energy markets. UK is building its power supply on businesses that have no duty to perform.

    • John Palmer permalink
      February 7, 2021 8:11 pm

      Oh, come, come! Their ‘duty’ is to their share/stakeholders and therefor to gouge as much as they can from the taxpayer before the s**t hits the fan when Gen3 ‘smart meters’ are mandated and blackouts and time-of-use charges are the new normal – with no compensation or redress.
      There’ll be brisk markets for gennies, diesel tanks, log-burners etc very soon!
      Oh, and don’t send those nice old woolly jumpers, thermal trousers etc., off to the jumble sale either…..

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        February 7, 2021 9:40 pm

        Happiness is a 3 year log pile and two wood burners.

  4. Broadlands permalink
    February 7, 2021 8:05 pm

    What is the cost of replacing these offshore ‘renewables’ when age and exposure increases their “rust” and efficiency declines? Where will the junked ones be stored? Same question for solar panels. The costs of unintended consequences can be large.

    • Ian W permalink
      February 8, 2021 10:47 am

      If you are in a country with reliable baseload power (i.e. not provided from renewables) then you make new parts/turbines and do a one for one replacement – not cheap but doable. If your grid cannot supply continual baseload power to keep smelters running safely then you will have to purchase your new parts/assemblies from a country that has reliable baseload power that does not require renewables, one that has been commissioning new coal fired generation plants at around 2 a month for 15 years and will continue until the magic 2030 date. And that country is…..

  5. Mr T permalink
    February 7, 2021 8:26 pm

    How much does the construction cost of offshore wind depend on the depth of water that the turbine is operating in or is this not a significant variable?

  6. Andrew Harding permalink
    February 7, 2021 9:05 pm

    Has the failure rate of wind turbines been factored into the costs? They are situated in a very aggressive environment! How about the CO2 released in the production of their megaton foundations and the mining of the rare earth materials, involving the crushing of 1000’s of tons of rock to extract a few pounds of rare elements that could be used more productively? Not that I am sceptical of course?

    • February 8, 2021 3:35 am

      Have they factored-in the cost of total replacement every X years? (Or have they assumed these things last for ever?)
      What X have they assumed?
      I bet it is way too large!

    • February 8, 2021 3:47 am

      Furthermore, UK offshore wind-turbines are mounted on a monopile. This must make the whole assembly far more flexible than the manufacturers normally assume. So the top of the wind-turbine is waving around like a 1960s car aerial – deflecting by a matter of +/- whole degrees. Meanwhile, the rotor and vanes are acting as a gyroscope and desperately trying to maintain a vertical plane. Something has got to give eventually – probably the bearings.

      The Germans now use a tripod pile arrangement – which might provide a more stable and less flexible platform – but is likely much more expensive.

  7. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    February 7, 2021 9:39 pm

    Costs us the planet. Watermelon leftards.

  8. Stonyground permalink
    February 8, 2021 9:17 am

    Sorry to be OT but, as it is snowing again I did a search for that old Independent article about snow being a thing of the past. Instead I found a new one. It seems that some people never learn.

    https://www-bbc-co-uk.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-55179603?amp_js_v=a6&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQHKAFQArABIA%3D%3D#aoh=16127752637450&amp_ct=1612775278024&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 8, 2021 9:42 am

      Loved the quote from Lizzie Kendon of the Met Office:
      “”We’re saying by the end of the century much of the lying snow will have disappeared entirely except over the highest ground,” she told Panorama.”
      Now, if she’d left out the word ‘snow that sentence might have made more sense.

    • Micky R permalink
      February 10, 2021 7:09 pm

      “Could” = guessing.

  9. Paul Kolk permalink
    February 8, 2021 9:50 am

    The photo at the top does rather resemble one of a World War One graveyard……

  10. Julian Flood permalink
    February 8, 2021 10:30 am

    The capacity factor for onshore wind looks very optimistic to me. The Swaffham ecoturbine has a handy readout at the base of the tower which, if my O level maths has not deserted me, works out at 26/27%.

    There was a planning application above Haverhill for a turbine which was meant to have about 35% capacity factor, but some office junior had accidentally used the the output for a larger than actually planned generator. A less windy site than Swaffham, the best that could really be expected was 23%.

    JF

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 8, 2021 1:45 pm

      I downloaded some settlement basis data on embedded generation the other day. For the first fortnight of the year, onshore embedded wind averaged just 18%.

  11. Bill Hutchison permalink
    February 8, 2021 10:48 am

    Prof Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University studied the accounts of 350 wind farms between 2012 and 2019. He makes the cost of UK offshore wind power £125 to £152 /MWh.
    The Government is clearly being “economical with the actualite”
    See here: https://www.ref.org.uk/Files/performance-wind-power-uk.pdf

  12. Mad Mike permalink
    February 8, 2021 11:10 am

    Off topic here but it has come up here many times in relation to Extinction Rebellion etc.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/02/07/exclusive-far-left-influence-black-lives-matter-extinctionrebellion/

    It might be behind a paywall so here’s a small section.

    “Attempts by far-Left activists to “hijack” movements including Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion are being investigated in a review ordered by Boris Johnson.”

    “John Woodcock, the ex-Labour MP who now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney, an unaffiliated peer, has been instructed to probe the extreme fringes of the hard-Left and far-Right in the UK.”

    “His intervention comes after the SWP faced allegations, including from a leading racial justice campaigner, a prominent academic and an MP, of trying to hijack the Black Lives Matter movement last summer. The party had placed itself at the heart of protests and hosted Zoom sessions entitled “BLM: Racism, resistance and revolution meetings”.”

    “Reports have also emerged of communist and socialist cells attempting to use Extinction Rebellion (XR) as a trojan horse to pursue their far-Left aims.”

    This comes as many people, including Millwall supporters, have seen through the tactics of the extreme left in highjacking popular causes. I’m surprised that Boris has ordered this investigation but I feel that it may not be a one way street to socialism anymore.

    Maybe, after this, they might look into the Left’s infiltration of many of our institutions like English Heritage, the National Trust etc.etc.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 8, 2021 12:12 pm

      “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of BLM?”

      “Reports have also emerged of communist and socialist cells attempting to use Extinction Rebellion (XR) as a trojan horse to pursue their far-Left aims.”

      BLM and XR don’t need any help from “communist and socialist cells.”

      Johnson seeks the obvious. What is he going to to when he finds it?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      February 8, 2021 1:25 pm

      Bizarre – any infiltration CAN ONLY DILUTE the extremism of such groups.

      It’s a shame that so many well intentioned people have been duped into lending their support in the first place.

      The scandal is that the MSM and government refuse to report the truth so people can form a rational opinion and no doubt remove their support. In a sane world BLM and XR would be outlawed.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        February 8, 2021 6:59 pm

        Whereas BLM seems to now be sponsored by Skysport. Pleased to see some independent thinking in our rugby players.

  13. tom0mason permalink
    February 8, 2021 2:33 pm

    Our politicos like children play,
    With whirly things on doldrums’ day.
    And sunshine catchers destroy the futures,
    Of generations lost to crony looters.
    Unpower tomorrow, “batteries not included”
    Just pay ‘The Greens’ and stay deluded.

  14. Micky R permalink
    February 10, 2021 7:16 pm

    In terms of grid reliability, what are the “hotel” energy requirements for offshore? i.e. low wind means that a large wind turbine is parasitic e.g. motoring to reduce the risk of the shaft distorting, heating of the control system and lubricants, communications.

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