No new onshore wind projects have been given contracts in the UK since a change of government in 2015. The few still being built were awarded contracts beforehand. Now, an independent think tank — the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit — is arguing that construction of new onshore wind farms could save electricity consumers as much as £1.5 billion (€1.7 billion/$2 billion) over five years. Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of electricity generation and can deliver savings even when taking into account the costs associated with managing variability. The report notes that a Spanish auction in May 2017 delivered onshore wind at €43/MWh ($51/MWh) and suggests that around 1GW in the UK could be delivered by the 15-year contracts for difference (CfD) currently used at £49.40/MWh ($65/MWh) or less. This is lower than the current estimate for new gas-fired generation of £66/MWh ($87/MWh). Assuming an average load factor of 0.31 for onshore wind in the UK, 1GW would deliver 2.7TWh of energy. The report estimates the costs of delivering 2.7TWh by other means, including the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, a recently-contracted biomass project, offshore wind, combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and small modular reactors (SMR). The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit report compares the annual generation costs from these sources. They range from £166 million in the case of onshore wind and £198 million for offshore wind, to £271 million for Hinkley Point and £308 million in the case of the biomass plant. The estimates for wind include an allowance for an “integration cost” of £10/MWh ($13/MWh). This covers the costs of the measures needed to cope with variability.
Wind Power Monthly 1st Dec 2017 read more »