Offshore wind power now so cheap it could pay money back to consumers

The latest round of offshore wind farms to be built in the UK could reduce household energy bills by producing electricity very cheaply, according to a new report from Imperial College London.

Renewable energy projects, including onshore and offshore wind and solar farms, have so far been subsidised by government support schemes, leading some to complain that clean energy is pushing up bills.

The research has concluded that the most recently approved offshore wind projects will most likely operate with ‘negative subsidies’ – paying money back to the government and helping to reduce household energy bills as they start producing power in the mid-2020s.

One reason the price of offshore wind has fallen so rapidly is technology development, in particular the ability to build larger wind turbines further out at sea.

Lead researcher Dr Malte Jansen, from the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College, said: “Offshore wind power will soon be so cheap to produce that it will undercut fossil-fuelled power stations and may be the cheapest form of energy for the UK. Energy subsidies used to push up energy bills, but within a few years cheap renewable energy will see them brought down for the first time. This is an astonishing development.”

Dr Iain Staffell, from the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College, said: “The price of offshore wind power has plummeted in only a matter of a decade, surprising many in the field. This amazing progress has been made possible by new technology, economies of scale and efficient supply chains around the North Sea, but also by a decade of concerted policymaking designed to reduce the risk for investing in offshore wind, which has made financing these huge billion-pound projects much cheaper. These new wind farms set the stage for the rapid expansion needed to meet the government’s target of producing 30 percent of the UK’s energy needs from offshore wind by 2030. Offshore wind will be pivotal in helping the UK, and more broadly the world, to reach net-zero carbon emissions with the added bonus of reducing consumers’ energy bills.”