By 2020, it is projected that there will be 170GW of onshore wind capacity in the European Union, and 120GW in China (IEA, 2011), whilst America is expected to deliver 12GW of wind per year on average within this decade (Emerging Energy Research, 2009). Meanwhile within the UK, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) envisages a total of 13GW of onshore wind capacity over the same timeframe (DECC, 2011) However, although not as expensive as its offshore counterpart, the cost-effectiveness of onshore wind has been challenged within the UK. In February 2012 over one hundred MPs wrote to the Prime Minister expressing their concern about the subsidies required to support the technology (Middleton, 2012).
This case study contributes to a UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC, 2011) project on electricity generation cost estimation methodologies by:
- Examining forecasts for onshore wind costs made in the past;
- Comparing these forecasts with how costs actually evolved;
- Understanding the key historical drivers of onshore wind costs; and
- Identifying implications for onshore wind cost estimation methodologies.
The analysis focuses on the capex costs and levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of onshore wind. The cost data was collected from over 40 sources from a range of countries, with full details found in the Appendix.