United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Floating wind to cost £85/MWh by mid-2020s

UK: Floating turbines could push the cost of offshore wind down to £85/MWh (€116/MWh) by the middle of the next decade according to the research body Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

ETI's report compared the difference of floating foundation types
ETI's report compared the difference of floating foundation types

The Offshore Wind Floating Wind Technology report believes effective deployment of floating technology could see it compete with other forms of low carbon energy generation by the mid-2020s, ETI said.

"The UK has many high-energy offshore wind sites within 70 to 100km of the shoreline, but which sit at water depths in the range of 50-100 metres, beyond the depth at which existing foundation technologies are commercially viable. Cost competitive foundation technology suitable for these deeper waters would enable the UK to make the most of the favourable (but currently unexploitable) wind energy resources around our coastline," the report said.

However, to get to that stage, ETI said revenue from power generation alone would not be enough to enable the technologies to demonstrate at full scale. Financial support for innovation would be needed.

The report's author and ETI offshore renewables strategy manager Stuart Bradley said: "At this stage there is little, if any, market pull for floating wind solutions, and technology push will be needed until deeper water sites are provided. Test sites and policies need to be in place to encourage the development of floating technology suitable for UK waters if it is to be available by the 2020s."

ETI's report echoes one released by the Carbon Trust in June 2015. That report suggest floating offshore wind would only produce electricity at £85/MWh by 2050.

The two reports however differ on the type of floating technology that can produce the lowest costs.

ETI, which is involved in the PelaStar tension-leg platform project, suggest the tension-leg solution as the best technology. Whereas Carbon Trust's report found that semi-submersible foundations, with simple installations, can achieve the lowest potential cost, slightly less than spar-buoy and tension-leg platform designs.

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