Onshore wind is already one of the lowest-cost forms of new electricity generation. But a study recently released by Scottish Renewables shows that industry could cut costs further, by more than £150 million a year.
This cost cut would come from making a series of changes including installing the latest wind turbines and extending the life of existing ones, says Scottish Renewables.
The research, carried out by consultants Everoze on behalf of Scottish Renewables, also found that introducing a more flexible way of connecting onshore wind projects to the grid, and reducing the amount developers have to pay to connect, could save millions each year.
Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager for Scottish Renewables, said: “The cost of onshore wind has come down significantly over recent years, and it is now one of the most competitive forms of new electricity generation in the UK. This report shows that we can cut costs even further if government, industry and regulators work together to make sure we can use the latest generation of turbines on suitable sites, reduce grid charges, and deploy energy storage technologies.
“Deploying the latest generation of turbines has the biggest impact on costs, however, reducing them by £11/MWh,” Lindsay Roberts continues.“The report sets out just how competitive onshore wind in Scotland can be, and shows that it makes no sense for the UK Government to exclude the technology from long-term contracts for clean power. Without it, we will all be paying for more expensive alternatives.”
Zoe Barnes, Head of Scottish Office at Everoze, added: “The work is designed to be more than just another policy report to sit on the shelf gathering dust.This is about identifying concrete actions for government, industry and relevant stakeholders to find common ground to enable onshore wind to fulfil its potential in Scotland – delivering reliable, affordable and clean energy at the heart of the power sector.
“Based on our analysis, we estimate that the changes proposed could cut costs by at least 20%, meaning potential savings upwards of £150 million a year.”
In total researchers identified ten key areas that could provide a range of cost reductions for the onshore wind sector in Scotland. They include:
- Encourage the deployment of the latest turbine technology, including larger turbines
- Make the consenting process more coherent
- Develop guidance on how to maximise the potential benefits from redeveloping, replanting and repowering existing wind farm sites
- Reform system charging
- Adopt ‘smart’ grid connections
- Adopt Independent Connection Providers or self-build connections
- Lower the cost of transmission assets
- Extend asset life
- Adopt new off-take arrangements (where power is sold to private end-users with no direct grid link)
- Deploy storage, allowing onshore wind to capture, and therefore use, more of our renewable energy resource.