Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Survey Says:  Experts See a Bright Future for Wind Power

Wind experts see falling costs. (Credit: nature.com) Click to Enlarge.
As part of a working group for the International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Technology Collaboration Programme, researchers at Berkeley Lab (along with the National Renewable Energy Lab, U-Mass Amherst, and Insight Decisions) surveyed 163 wind energy experts from around the world about the future of wind power, focusing on potential future costs.  The findings are described in a study published in the journal Nature Energy.

These experts come from the wind industry, think tanks, labs, government agencies, and non-profit groups. They were asked about three applications of wind power: the onshore turbines that are sprouting all around the world, fixed-bottom offshore turbines that have mostly been deployed in the waters of Northern Europe, and floating offshore turbines that have only been tested in pilot deployments thus far.

Overall, the experts see big cost reduction potential in all three categories of technology, with the expected cost of energy dropping between 24 and 30 percent by 2030 in the “median” case (the survey also asked for “low” and “high” cost cases, neither of which are described here). Of course, each wind technology starts from a different point on the cost curve, as shown in the figure below.

Not surprisingly, experts believe that onshore wind energy will remain lower-cost than offshore, at least for typical projects. But they see more-significant absolute reductions in offshore wind costs over time, and so a narrowing occurs between onshore and offshore applications. A similar trend is apparent for fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind: while floating turbines are expected to remain more costly in typical projects, the gap narrows over time. In general, experts are less certain about offshore wind trends, showing a wider range of responses (as shown by the shaded areas in the figure).

Read more at Survey Says:  Experts See a Bright Future for Wind Power

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