Technological advances in wind turbines, coupled with stricter onshore planning regulations will make offshore wind the cheapest renewable energy source by 2030, according to market analysts.
Onshore wind is currently one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy on the market, but it is likley to be overtaken by offhshore wind power, generated by increasingly powerful turbines within a decade according to projections by energy market researcher Cornwall Insight.
Cornwall Insight has calculated that the cost of offshore wind energy will fall below that of its onshore counterpart as a soon as 2028 as costs are driven down by increasingly powerful turbines.
Cornwall Insight senior modeller Tom Edwards said improving turbine performance was already having a ”significant impact” on the market.
“Improvements in offshore technology are occurring all the time, and for offshore wind increasing the size of turbines is making a significant impact,” said Edwards.
“8MW models are currently being deployed, and larger 10MW and 12MW models are under development as the technology advances. With these larger economies of scale, it is inevitable that costs will fall,” Edwards added.
The first operational wind farm was Denmark’s Vindeby offshore wind farm off the coast of Denmark used 11, 450KW turbines when it first opened in 1991.
Today’s latest turbines have capacity of up to 8MW, meaning each turbine has almost double the generational capacity of the entire Vindeby wind farm.
For onshore to keep pace, planning restrictions must be eased off, Edwards argued.
“For onshore wind to keep pace with its offshore counterpart, planning decisions will need to be relaxed”.
Relaxing planning rules on onshore turbines will allow them to take advantage of improvements such as changes to tip height and rotor diameter to better optimise them for onshore conditions.
Edwards added: ”This will not only to benefit consumers with cheaper cleaner energy but help the government towards its decarbonisation targets, not only in terms of facilitating the best conditions for new build onshore wind but also allowing existing sites to be repowered optimally.”
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Data provided by Cornwall Insight.