Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Offshore wind industry 'needs help'

Government cash is needed to help the UK’s “home-grown” offshore wind industry to help reduce costs, according to a research report.

Costs of creating offshore wind farms have risen sharply in the past few years.

When the technology first came on the scene 10 years ago, it was said by many in the industry that the cost of wind farm-building and generating electricity would be reduced over time. But about 80% of the components used to build an offshore wind farm come from abroad, the UK Energy Research Centre said.

Its report called for support on establishing a more efficient supply chain and better innovation.

The industry has been at the mercy of commodity price increases, fluctuations in currencies and supply-chain shortages and bottlenecks, as well as delays in the planning system which sees the average wind farm take seven to nine years to get up and running.

The report’s chief author, Robert Gross, said: “The UK is not yet fully benefiting from being a world leader in the field; in effect UK consumers are subsidising Danish and German wind energy companies. This report suggests that policies could do more both to bear down on costs and support a UK-based industry.”

Readers' comments (7)

  • Somebody must be joking!

    The NCE Magazine would be better employed publishing the recent Report for the Royal Academy of Engineering on The Cost of Generating Electricity by PB Power which shows the real total costs of all the known methods of power generation - including for all necessary standby power system costs for each system but not including the cost of connection to the National Grid which depends very much on the availability and reliability of each system itself.

    Offshore Wind Farm costs are 3 times that of Nuclear(including de-commissioning) and the offshore/onshore cable and power management systems costs for the Wind Farms are far, far higher than similar power connection and conveyance/management systems to the National Grid than Nuclear or any other system.

    Manufacturing within the UK of wind turbines, i.e. what is effectively a commodity product, including for any possible new innovative designs of more efficient component elements would hardly scratch the efficiency and hence the cost of power from windfarm overall systems, and hence would not provide any increased benefit to the clients and as such no competitive advantage to UK manufacturers. Wind farm inefficiencies - their remote locations and the capricious wind feedstock, lock in massive inefficiencies which effectively cannot be engineered out.

    Windfarms as a system and as now subsidized go against the very essence of engineering - they fail to provide value for money, are less for more, and increase the overheads of the UK plc providing a long term and unnecessary burden on the UK taxpayer and potential UK exporters!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree with Peter Wilson, the recent report by Policy Exchange also makes salutory reading. They forecast that the plethora of so called Environmrntal or green or Climate Change legislation now in place will mean that by 2020 this will require a levy or subsidy on conventional , including Nuclear energy of £16.3 billion per annum. This amounts to around £250 per year for domestic consumers and another £380 per year per household from additional cost of goods and services from the additional costs to providers. We will have energy, electrical in particular that will be both unreliable and unaffordable!

    Derek Limbert (F)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The offshore, and indeed the onshore wind industry is failing because more and more interested parties are beginning to understand that wind energy is simply a waste of money, and without government subsidies the industry would be bankrupt. It is clear that wind energy does not work and the sooner our political leaders have the courage to reduce its commitment to this ill considered method of creating energy the better.

    Derek Godfrey (F)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Many years ago I wrote to the Editor of NCE and pointed out that there was a vast quantity of evidence which showed that Wind Energy electricity production was grossly un-economic. I told him that our Institution, which has a duty to the population in general, should not be "jumping on the bandwagon" to support unlimited encouragement of such [production, but the Institution has continued to dis-serve the members by failing to make the appropriate professional giving of advice to Government, members and the people in general. I hope this mis-direction of advice and funds will stop immediately. J. D. McCaughey, F.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Surely I have misunderstood: You are saying that Wind systems do not provide value for money but you support nuclear power?
    Are you not forgetting that the original R&D for nuclear power was all State funded? Are you forgetting more recently the bailout of British Energy in 2002 (current liabilties are £5B), plus a granting of limited liability if it cannot pay for the cleanup - leaving the rest to be paid by the taxpayer? Are you forgetting the current estimated decommissioning costs of £56B all to be paid for by the taxpayer (which does not include long term waste storage costs nor the decommissioning of BE's 7 power stations). The less we sink money into nuclear power and the quicker we develop ALL forms of renewable energy including biomass, solar, wave, tidal AND wind the better.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I, like Mr. McCaughey, wrote to the Editor of NCE several years ago suggesting that the ICE should produce a complete comparitive schedule of the unit power costs needed without any subsidy to fully support the full life cycle costs of all forms of power generation as an urgently needed advice to all members. Nothing so basic and essential has ever been produced, let alone updated. The myths Mr.Reeves and too many others therefore still continue. Comparative schedules of proper updated all-in total unit power costs show windfarms are at least 3 times that of wind farms now being built and that is an established fact!

    Mr. Reeves does us all a disservice as engineers and doesn't help our standing in the community. Our professional responsibility is to provide value for money engineering systems' solutions to meet specified needs such as power generation - proven by established engineering investment methods and objective assessments and facts - and certainly not by such hysterical and unfoundered subjective outbursts.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Correction. Windfarms > 3 x Nuclear and other systems costs!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.