Wind Power

Energy and Climate Change written question – answered on 30th March 2010.

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Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Liberal Democrat, Montgomeryshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether his Department has undertaken research into the comparative effectiveness of wind turbines and fossil fuel generation in producing electricity; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of David Kidney David Kidney Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Energy and Climate Change

The usual approach of assessing the effectiveness of different electricity generation technologies is to use the levelised cost of generating one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity.

The analysis underpinning Renewable Energy Strategy, published in July 2009, used assumptions on the generating costs and wider impacts of wind generation. Full details of which are set out in Element (2009) and Redpoint/Trilemma (2009), which are available on the DECC website.

Table 1: Levelised cost estimates for wind generation plant
Technology Levelised cost (£/MWh)
Wind generation plant
Onshore wind 74-103
Offshore wind 112-131

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have published estimated levelised costs (£/MWh, in 2008 prices) associated with 1 MWh of electricity generated, for their December 2008 report:

Their analysis for fossil fuel plant is set out in table 2 and include construction, operation and maintenance costs and the cost of carbon allowances (EU ETS).

Table 2: Levelised cost estimates for fossil fuel generation plant
Technology Levelised cost (£/MWh)
Coal-fired plant
Coal (pulverised fuel)-central fuel 54
Gas-fired plant
CCGT-central fuel 53

It should be noted that the estimates of levelised costs for different types of electricity generation are highly sensitive to the assumptions used for capital costs, fuel and EU ETS allowance prices, operating costs, load factor, and other drivers. In reality, there are large uncertainties and ranges around these figures.

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