UK Offshore Wind Development

Innovation Sparks Billion-Dollar Play on Offshore Wind

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted February 29, 2012

A newly released report by the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group (LCICG) details how the U.K. could revamp the offshore wind industry to make it a competitive form of energy.

By reducing carbon emissions through this industry and meeting emission targets, the nation could save anywhere from $24 billion to as much as $119 billion by 2050.

And the offshore wind industry has the potential to be worth $46.8 billion in the U.K.

The report highly recommends innovation in the industry if the nation is to bring the cost of producing offshore wind energy down.

It currently costs roughly $187.3 per megawatt hour for a Round 2 site, and cost reduction would require some level of change in efficiency.

The report recommends innovation in five specific areas.  These include turbines, foundations, collection and transmission, installation, and operations and maintenance.

Turbines are the most expensive part offshore wind farms, accounting for 28% of the cost.

Test sites for turbine manufacturing come into play here.  The government, rather than manufacturers, is responsible for running the test sites, and the NAREC is constructing a new test facility now.

If enough is done in offshore innovation, the cost could be reduced by about 25% in 10 years and possibly as much as 60% by 2050.

The report suggests that offshore wind energy could account for anywhere between 20% and 50% of the total electricity in the U.K. by 2050.

And the chart below, from The Manufacturer, details the potential savings by innovation category:

UK Wind Innovation

The Department for Business Innovation & Skills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Energy Technologies Institute, the Technology Strategy Board, the Carbon Trust, and the Research Council UK-Energy make up the six-group LCICG that conducted the research behind the report.