United Kingdom

United Kingdom

GOW 2018: Deployment key to cost reduction

UK: Greater clarity is needed on pipeline volumes if further cost reductions of offshore wind are to be achieved, industry representatives have said.

Left to right: Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Ørsted's Matthew Wright, Claire Spedding from the National Grid, Siemens Gamesa UK chief Clark MacFarlane, and Equinor's Hywind Scotland lead Sebastian Bringsværd
Left to right: Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Ørsted's Matthew Wright, Claire Spedding from the National Grid, Siemens Gamesa UK chief Clark MacFarlane, and Equinor's Hywind Scotland lead Sebastian Bringsværd

Speaking at a panel debate on day two of the RenewableUK Global Offshore Wind 2018 event in Manchester (19-20 June) Matthew Wright, UK managing director for leading offshore wind developer Ørsted, said the key to bringing down the cost of offshore wind is deployment. 

He said the reason the price of offshore wind had fallen was because processes had been streamlined to due repeated practice. 

This is why the government needs to give the industry greater clarity of the pipeline, which should come in the form of a sector deal, expected by the end of the year.

Currently, the industry is targeting 30GW of offshore wind by 2030, up from 7GW today, which Wright said was "definitely achieveable".

Clark MacFarlane, UK managing director for manufacturer Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, agreed: "What we have done is create volume to industrialise. The sector deal is key because the more volume certainty we can get then technology will change."

While costs will fall with more deployment, Wright would not be drawn on how much offshore wind will cost by 2030. 

Sebastian Bringsværd, head of the Hywind Scotland project for developer Equinor (formerly Statoil), said floating wind could reach £40-60/MWh (€45-68/MWh) by 2030, if it is given the visibility. 

"The 30GW sector deal is something we believe in but you need to start planning now. That journey won't happen if we don't start now. We really need to push for that.

"Floating wind won't be competitive for next five years, but it will be in the next 15 years. The UK has a great opportunity to take the lead in floating wind."

Baseload

The panelists agreed baseload power is also set to change, with the growth of renewables. 

Claire Spedding, head of business development at the National Grid, the UK's grid operator, expects the definition of baseload power will change, moving away from conventional thermal and nuclear power. 

Spedding said offshore wind's 40-50% capacity factor, and the predictability of wind, could lead to the technology providing baseload generation. 

How consumers use electricity is also changing, Spedding added, which will also affect how baseload power is needed. 

Ørsted's Wright agreed, adding that the concept of baseload will become questionable. "Supply and demand are getting more flexible. We will have baseload for a while still, but it is starting to become questionable as a concept. We need a flexible system and a flexible, dispatchable baseload."

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