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What Is the Cheapest Form of Renewable Energy in the UK?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 4 years ago
  • Author: Steve Walia

Recently, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, said that onshore wind was the cheapest form of renewable energy. But was the claim correct? The government has published cost projections for green power projects that will begin this year, including cost breakdowns per MWh of different generation types.

The estimates produced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showed that onshore wind energy would cost just £63 per MWh of electricity to produce, which suggests that the Green Party's claim is accurate.

Currently, onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy in the UK when compared to offshore wind, which stands at £106. Construction costs and the intermittent nature of solar and wind power alike were factored into their costs, but broader factors such as the impact on air quality were not quantified or factored in.

BVG Associates carried out a similar study to find that onshore wind was the cheapest form of generation in the UK for new-build products. BEIS says that this has been driven by increases in capacity for renewables. 

Generation from both wind and solar energies rose to 61.5 TWh compared to 47.7 TWh, which was driven by a 22% rise in capacity for wind projects.

It's interesting to note that the government committed to stopping the spread of onshore wind projects in 2015 after pressure from community groups. However, RenewableUK believes that support for these types of development has grown over time.

In its 2017 manifesto, the Conservatives said that they would prioritise offshore wind projects, and it recently took an initiative forward to grow this capacity offshore. Costs for offshore wind have lowered after government auctions forced companies to bid for sales contracts, and the costs have now dropped by over half.