The idea that offshore wind energy is inherently expensive is a myth, according to a recent analysis done by a top energy consultant.
Using publicly available data on offshore wind energy infrastructure in Denmark, energy consultant Mike Parr analyzed the information and found that offshore wind is already (in many cases) cheaper than gas-fired power plants, even ignoring externalities!
With costs associated with the technology continuing to fall, offshore wind farms are expected to get even more economically effective than they are now — and will be up to 60% less costly than the proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C in the UK.
Beating out nuclear energy on cost effectiveness is, of course, not hard to do — as nuclear power plants are effectively impossible to develop without huge state subsidies — but it's still something worth noting considering the support that nuclear still somehow gets.
Parr's analysis (and commentary) makes it clear that the substantial subsidies that offshore wind currently receives in many places are probably unnecessary, and perhaps detrimental to the public perception of the technology.
The general public image of offshore wind is that it's expensive and dependant upon government support, something responsible to some degree for growing public backlash against the technology — as the new analysis shows, though, the technology really has quite a lot going for it with regard to affordability.
So, if the large subsidies that wind projects receive aren't necessary, then where does the money go, you ask? Presumably, into the pockets of the operators and developers, something that's an issue with nearly every large industry, it should be remembered. Still, it would be nice if huge subsidies weren't regularly paid out to large, viable industries. (The fossil fuel industry comes to mind.)
Those interested in all of the gritty details and specifics of the new analysis are recommended to head over and check them out (here).
Image Credit: Helen Haden (CC BY-NC 2.0)