Task force calls for wind farm cost cutting

The government's Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force recommended in a report published on Thursday that costs for generating electricity offshore should be reduced by 30% by 2020.

The report builds on a study by the Crown Estate, also published today, to show how reductions can be achieved, setting out specific actions to drive costs down.

The task force says the cost of delivering 18GW of electricity from offshore wind farms could fall from £140/MWh today to £100/MWh by 2020, saving £3bn a year.

This would make offshore competitive with other forms of energy generation.

The Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force report lays out 28 specific recommendations on how the industry can reduce the cost of generation, covering supply chain, innovation, contracting, planning and consenting, finance and grid. Within these the Task Force has highlighted that more efficient contracting and the concept of "alliancing", used successfully by the North Sea oil and gas industry to reduce risk and bring down costs, have the potential to be transformative in lowering cost and improving working practices.

Charles Hendry, energy minister, said: "Offshore wind will be a vital part of a diverse and secure low carbon energy mix in the decades ahead. But we are clear that costs must come down.

"I am encouraged that this report shows that substantial cost savings can be achieved if action is taken and I welcome this valuable work. I look forward to working closely with industry to take this forward further and deliver these ambitious targets."

The two reports were launched jointly at the Global Offshore 2012 conference organised by the trade and professional body for the wind and marine energy industries, RenewableUK, at the ExCeL Centre in London.

Among the 300 exhibitors is Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership as part of its low carbon economy growth strategy.

LEP members Cammell Laird is the principal exhibiting partner, alongside Peel Ports, Wirral and Knowlsey Councils.

Cammell Laird is currently fulfilling a £5m contract won from RWE npower renewables to support construction of the Gwynt-y-Môr wind farm off the North Wales coast.

The contract is to provide port and quayside facilities for RWE to load and fit out the foundations for the offshore wind turbines. At 50 to 70 metres long, up to six metres in diameter – about the same as an Airbus A380 passenger jet – and weighing up to 700 tonnes, these are some of the largest steel monopiles ever used in the construction of a wind farm. The massive pylons will be shipped out from the yard to the development site in the Irish Sea.

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