“The Economics of Wind Power” IET-led submission by Engineering the Future to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee
Abstract There are a wide range of measures to save carbon by using less energy and using energy more efficiently that are lower cost/tonne of carbon saved than wind energy. However these require widespread action by large groups of consumers and have struggled to find widespread adoption. For electricity production, at the moment onshore wind is broadly comparable in cost to nuclear energy. It is also comparable to the predicted cost of fossil energy with carbon capture and storage. However unlike onshore wind, the outturn commercial costs of nuclear and especially CCS are subject to large uncertainties, including technical ones. Offshore wind is more costly than onshore as it is still a fairly new technology with significant engineering and logistical complexities. The industry is targeting significant cost reductions as it reaches technical maturity but it will remain relatively high cost. However, offshore wind farms have the advantage that they can be deployed at large scale without significant landscape and visual impact. When considering subsidy for wind power, the Committee needs to distinguish between “flow” renewables that generate when the resource is available, such as wind, and “dispatchable” renewables that can be controlled at will, such as biomass. Dispatchable renewables have greater value to the electricity system, and this needs to be offset against their support when making comparisons. Electricity storage appears to hold considerable potential for off-setting the variability of wind generation, however while wind receives government incentives, electricity storage does not.
Submission Details Submitted on 27 June 2012 to House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee