New research from Germany shows that steady and consistent development of offshore wind energy allows for substantial cost reduction

New research from Germany has concluded that the cost of electricity from offshore wind energy can be reduced by about one third if it is consistently developed and growing over the next ten years. The report has obvious implications for the continuing development of the UK offshore wind energy industry. If costs can be driven down across the industry, this will help renewables reach parity with energy produced from fossil fuels. The establishment of a UK-based supply chain will benefit the economy in terms of growth and job creation.

The research will support the view that a strong national framework for the development of renewable energy coupled with firm Government leadership should provide business with the confidence to invest. Failure to invest will mean the loss of skills and slower technological development.

“The identified cost reduction potentials are based on the assumption that offshore wind power will be continuously developed and reach a capacity of 9 Gigawatt or more by the year 2023. This is the way to gain project experience, to promote technological innovation and to significantly decrease costs,” said Jens Eckhoff, President of The German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation.

Eckhoff continued: “Offshore wind power has a substantial cost reduction potential. However, the industry can only exploit this potential if there are reliable framework conditions to achieve significant market volumes.”

The study analyses the expected cost development of electricity generation from offshore wind until the year 2023. For this purpose, two development scenarios were applied to evaluate three typical German sites for offshore wind farms.

The first scenario assumes a stable market development and describes the development of at least 9 GW installed capacity in Germany by the year 2023. In this scenario, the cost of offshore wind power decreases on average by about 31 percent across all sites until 2023. The second scenario assumes an optimum market environment with a development of 14 GW until 2023. In this case, costs could decrease by up to 39 percent.

“The main driver for cost reduction is a continuous technological development across the entire supply chain. Particularly regarding investment costs, substantial savings can be achieved. Costs for support structures and other components as well as for the installation go down.

“Larger turbines reduce specific investment costs as the energy yield substantially increases,” said Frank Peter of Prognos AG, co-author of the study.

The study also shows that due to increasing experience in project planning, plant construction and operation, the risks - and subsequently the financing costs - can be reduced. In addition, improved logistics, such as the use of more powerful ships and an optimised infrastructure, can positively affect the costs of offshore plant operation and maintenance. The analysis also shows that in an optimum market environment an expanded serial production and increasing competition will contribute to cost reduction.

Eckhoff explained: “In Germany, we have a number of projects ready and waiting. Currently they lack the required investment security. In order to be able to use the experience gained from the first German offshore wind farms and to promote the further development of the industry, a timely implementation of these projects is necessary. This way offshore wind energy can make an essential contribution to tomorrow’s energy supply.”

Download the summary report in English.

Download the full report in German.

Who commissioned and supported this study?
Prognos AG and The Fichtner Group carried out the research and compiled the report.

The study was initiated and commissioned by The German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation, with the support of other organisations such as Forum Windenergie (OFW), VDMA Fachverband Power Systems, Windenergie-Agentur WAB e.V. as well as the companies Wind GmbH, BARD Engineering GmbH, DONG Energy Renewables Germany GmbH, EnBW Erneuerbare und Konventionelle Erzeugung AG, E.ON Climate & Renewables Central Europe GmbH, EWE Vertrieb GmbH, IBERDROLA Renovables Offshore Deutschland Zwei GmbH, RWE Innogy GmbH, SIEMENS AG Wind Power Power Division, SWM Stadtwerke München GmbH, Trianel Windkraftwerk Borkum GmbH & Co. KG, Vattenfall Europe Windkraft GmbH, WindMW GmbH, and wpd Offshore GmbH.

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