New analysis by engineering consulting firm Arup has come to the conclusion that onshore windfarms could be built at around the same cost as new gas power stations and roughly half as much as the new Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor.
The Conservative government effectively blocked new onshore wind power development in 2015 by introducing new planning barriers and excluding projects from competing for subsidies, although the party’s most recent manifesto seems to indicate a softening in approach. The report was commissioned by ScottishPower, which is hoping to get the government to reconsider onshore wind power.
For future generation of electricity from the new Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor, energy firm EDF has been guaranteed a price around twice the normal wholesale electricity rate at £92.50 per MWh for 35 years, while Arup found that onshore would could deliver for a guaranteed price of £50-55 over 15 years. This is clearly much closer to current wholesale electricity costs, with Arup concluding that the technology would be subsidy-free in practice when it comes to household bills. Such a guaranteed price would remove the risk from volatile energy prices and attract investment.
While offshore wind has its own advantages, onshore wind is inherently simpler and has become cheaper thanks to economies of scale kicking in. In the right place, and combined with good lubrication practices, like the use of Mobilith SHC 220, it looks to be a viable option for producing electricity at competitive rates.