Wind Energy Costs to Drop 30% over Next 15 Years

Wind power costs will continue to fall for several more decades, which could help spur global transitions to clean energy sources, according to a new report from Near Zero.

Near Zero is a research organization that tracks renewable energy research for policy and investment. It has completed a large and thorough study of wind energy deployments, surveying 163 leading wind experts from across the globe, in order to develop of body of information to inform policy decisions aimed at dramatically reducing global emissions. Experts predict costs for offshore and onshore wind turbines will drop 24-20% by 2030, and 35-41% by 2050, according to its data.

In light of the recent developments of the COP21 conference and resulting Paris agreement, science organizations around the world are developing models to gauge how best to phase out the use of fossil fuels in order to prevent the world from further warming. Costs associated with new renewable energy technologies are important to model outcomes that project various scenarios of ramping up renewable energy production around the globe.

“The cost of wind power is a crucial issue, since aggressively cutting greenhouse gas emissions will likely involve scaling up wind power further,” said Mike Mastrandrea, head of Near Zero. By helping develop projections for wind energy costs, Near Zero’s research can help energy transition models better explore options, the organization said.

The research looked at three different types of wind turbines: onshore turbines, offshore fixed-bottom turbines and offshore floating turbines. Floating offshore wind turbines are not currently being deployed in commercial installations yet, though there have been a number of large-scale demo installations.

Survey results reveal significant uncertainty in future cost expectations but also a sizable opportunity space for cost reductions,implying a substantial potential upside to wind energy technology policies that might push costs lower and lead to widespread deployment; but a potential downside if poorly crafted policies encourage aggressive deployment even under high costs. High levels of uncertainty also suggest that there is value in policies and efforts that increase future flexibility by, for example, reducing the lead time needed to deploy large amounts of wind in the case that low costs are realized. — “Expert Elicitation Survey on Future Wind Energy Costs,” September 2016.

 

Feature image: Te Apiti Wind Farm, Manawatu, New Zealan (CC BY 2.0) by Jondaar_1

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