According to a leading engineering consultant, on-shore wind farms could be built in the UK for the same cost per unit of output power as new gas power stations and nearly half the cost (per unit of output power) of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
Indeed, Arup found that wind-power technology has become so cheap that developers could deliver turbines for a guaranteed price of power that would be effectively subsidy-free in terms of the impact on household energy bills.
France’s EDF was awarded a ‘contract for difference’ (a top-up payment) of £92.50 per MWhr over 35 years for Hinkley’s power — about twice the wholesale price of electricity; Arup’s report found that wind farms could be delivered for a maximum of £50-55 per MWhr over 15 years.
Scottish Power, which commissioned the analysis, hopes to persuade the Government to reconsider its stance on onshore wind farms — effectively blocked in 2015 when the Government banned them from competing for subsidies and imposed new planning hurdles.
Keith Anderson, the firm’s chief operating officer, told the Guardian that onshore wind could help the UK meet its climate targets, was proven in terms of being easy to deliver, and was now “phenomenally competitive” on price.
“If you want to control the cost of energy, and deliver energy to consumers and to businesses across the UK at the most competitive price, why would you not want to use this technology? This report demonstrates that it’s at the leading edge of efficiency.”
Robert Gross, director of the centre for energy policy and technology at Imperial College, said: “Onshore wind has been coming in at remarkably low prices internationally, so a ‘contract for difference’ price of around £50-60 per MWhr looks perfectly feasible for a good location in the UK, which is one of the windiest countries in Europe.
“Wind farms generally need fixed-price contracts in order to secure finance; otherwise, volatile electricity prices can make investing in wind risky.”