The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) has attacked a report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) which warns that electricity from offshore wind will cost at least twice as much as that from conventional sources. The report, by energy consultants PB Power, claims the UK's cheapest electricity will come from gas and nuclear, costing just £0.023/kWh compared with £0.037/kWh for onshore wind and £0.055/kWh for offshore. The RAE's figures fly in the face of the bulk of research that forms the basis of the government's policies on renewables -- such as the government's own Renewables Innovation Review (above) and its energy white paper. The academy's Philip Ruffles claims, however, that the weakness of the white paper was that it saw nuclear as expensive. "Modern nuclear stations are far simpler and more streamlined than the old generation and far cheaper to build and run." The costs of back-up power from conventional sources add £0.017/kWh to the price of wind -- assuming it needs about 65% back-up, says Ruffles. The BWEA pours cold water on the RAE's claims. Onshore wind already generates at prices competitive with new conventional technologies, including nuclear, while the price for offshore wind is already falling and will reduce dramatically by 2020, says the BWEA's technical adviser David Milborrow. He is scathing about the figures RAE quotes for back up power. "Almost every authoritative study in the world has come up with back up costs which are only a fraction of those put forward by the RAE," he says. "Recent work in the UK involving National Grid Company has put the cost of back up at around £0.002-£0.003/kWh for 20% of electricity generated from wind." He assumes the prices quoted by RAE for nuclear are based upon reactors yet to be built. "This is in contrast with onshore and offshore wind where real cost data of real existing projects are used to make economic forecasts," Milborrow says.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol