http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2987919/offshore_wind_powers_ahead_as_prices_drop_30_below_nuclear.htmlThe cost of offshore wind power in the North Sea is 30% lower than that of new nuclear, writes Kieran Cooke - helped along by low oil and steel prices, reduced maintenance and mass production. By 2030 the sector is expected to supply 7% of Europe's electricity.
A building boom is underway offshore in Europe. Up to 400 giant wind turbines are due to be built off the northeast coast of the UK in what will be the world's largest offshore wind development.
Output from the Dogger Bank project will be 1.2 GW (gigawatts) - enough to power more than a million homes.
Next year, a 150-turbine wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands is due to start operating, and other schemes along the Dutch coast are in the works.
Denmark, Sweden and Portugal are major investors in offshore wind, and China has ambitious plans for the sector.
Wind farms - both onshore and offshore - are a key ingredient in renewable energy policy, and an important element in the battle against climate change.
WindEurope, an offshore wind industry group, says that at the present rate of installations it's likely Europe will be producing about 7% of its electricity from offshore wind by 2030.
The cheapest ever offshore wind power - €87 / MWh
Earlier this month, DONG Energy of Denmark, the world's largest offshore wind company, won a bid to build two wind farms 22 kilometres off the Dutch coast. The company says power will be produced for less than any other offshore scheme to date.
It is estimated that when the scheme is fully operational, electricity will cost €72.70 per megawatt hour (MWh) and €87 / MWh when transmission costs are included. At present, the cheapest offshore power is €103 MWh, generated by a wind farm off the coast of Denmark.
"It has been clear for some time that the costs of offshore wind are falling rapidly", says Giles Dickson, head of WindEurope. "This tender goes beyond even the most optimistic expectations in the market. The €87 / MWh is significantly lower than anything we've previously seen. It now puts offshore wind in the same cost range as conventional power generation."
The cost of offshore wind power in the North Sea is 30% lower than that of new nuclear, writes Kieran Cooke - helped along by low oil and steel prices, reduced maintenance and mass production. By 2030 the sector is expected to supply 7% of Europe's electricity.