Onshore wind and solar farms capable of generating more than three times as much power as the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could be built without any subsidy from taxpayers in Britain by 2030, energy analysts have forecast. The plunging costs of the technologies, which were reliant on very high subsidies just a few years ago, could enable investors to build them without any government intervention by the early 2020s, said Aurora Energy Research. The government has ended subsidy schemes for new onshore wind and solar farms, slowing their development, amid concern about their cost to consumers. Aurora, an Oxford-based consultancy, predicts that the fall in costs has brought the industry to the “cusp of breakthrough in Britain”, whereby such projects could be commercially viable even without subsidies. It predicts that solar farms capable of generating up to 9 gigawatts and onshore wind farms with a maximum output of 5 gigawatts are likely to be built on this basis by 2030. The prediction is likely to further increase pressure on nuclear developers to show they can be cost competitive. The 3.2-gigawatt Hinkley Point C plant is only viable thanks to a subsidy contract that commits consumers to pay its developers well above the market price for power for 35 years — potentially costing tens of billions of pounds. Renewables have only been made viable by similar commitments from government.
Times 21st March 2018 read more »