The UK energy minister, Charles Hendry, has re-confirmed the national government's commitment to the offshore wind industry, provided that the cost of energy is brought down to below £100/MWh. Currently, offshore wind's cost of energy in the UK is generally cited as being £140/MWh, although in some cases it is thought to have reached as high as £190/MWh.
Publication of two major reports on options for reducing the cost of energy for offshore wind projects in UK waters have both concluded that the £100 target is within reach, but that "constant vigilance" will be crucial, as noted by Hendry.
The Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce, established last autumn, has issued its conclusions, while UK seabed owner, The Crown Estate, has published the results of its offshore wind cost reduction pathways study. Both reports set out multiple options that collectively could bring costs down, but neither identifies a single solution.
The challenge of guiding the UK offshore wind industry's effort to rein in spiralling costs will be given to a new 'programme board'. This group will be established in the autumn, said Andrew Jamieson, chair of the existing taskforce, in response to Windpower Offshore's enquiries. Membership will take in all major elements of the sector, from developers through supply chain players and central government.
Commenting on the political emphasis within the UK on cost reduction, Gamesa's chair for northern Europe, Dirk Matthys, warned that his company's planned investment in UK offshore wind manufacturing capacity will only go ahead if Gamesa believes the UK government as a whole supports offshore wind. Suggestions that UK chancellor, George Osborne, is not fully onside are unnerving to the likes of manufacturers such as Gamesa.