Offshore wind power has pulled ahead of nuclear power in the United Kingdom. Energy from offshore wind farms will be less expensive than power from a new nuclear project for the first time, based on subsidy figures via the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy after an auction. Emma Pinchbeck of Renewable UK said the figures were “truly astonishing.”
Two firms said they’d construct offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50, around $76, per megawatt-hour for 2022-23, according to the BBC, which noted these figures are around half the subsidy costs in a 2015 auction. Compare £57.50 with the subsidy secured by new nuclear plant Hinkley Point C, which is £92.50, or around $122, per megawatt-hour.
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Pinchbeck told the BBC, “We still think nuclear can be part of the mix – but our industry has shown how to drive costs down, and now they need to do the same.”
The BBC listed larger turbines, foundations that cost less, and higher voltage cables as components that have helped reduce prices for offshore wind, along with UK supply chain growth and the oil and gas industry downturn. An example of those larger turbines are new eight-megawatt ones that are nearly 656 feet tall – and Pinchbeck suggested turbines could double in size during the 2020’s.
The nuclear industry said nuclear power is still necessary for times when the wind isn’t blowing. Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex said, “It doesn’t matter how low the price of offshore wind is. On last year’s figures it only produced electricity for 36 percent of the time.”
The subsidies for the wind farms will come from a consumer bill levy, and will run for 15 years, according to the BBC. Hinkley Point C’s subsidies will run for 35 years.
Minister for Energy and Industry Richard Harrington said the offshore wind projects would create thousands of new jobs.
Via the BBC
Images via Wikimedia Commons and NHD-INFO on Flickr