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Onshore wind now cheapest energy source in Europe

Onshore wind now cheapest energy source in Europe, says utility

Ruth Lumley | 28 May 2014

Onshore wind has become the cheapest form of energy in Europe according to a major continental utility, giving fossil fuels a run for their money.

Despite the Conservatives’ pledge to axe subsidies for new onshore wind farms in the UK if they win next year’s general election, a report from one of Europe’s leading energy operators EDP (Energias de Portugal) has shown that renewable energy is not only green, but cost-effective.

A third of EDP’s energy is generated by wind and in a recent presentation to analysts by Joao Manso Neto, the firm’s head of renewables, figures showed that the levellised cost of electricity of onshore wind in Europe is 20 per cent cheaper than gas and one third cheaper than coal, assuming a 25 per cent wind capacity factor.

Neto told the analysts that wind energy is also cheaper than gas in key emerging markets such as Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, and major Asian markets, according to the Renewable Economy website.

He said: “It is clear, more and more, that our product (wind energy) is good, not just because it is green, but because it is cheaper.”

But trying to convince governments that renewable energy could be the answer will remain challenging because of their reluctance to invest.

Yesterday, Lord Deben, chairman of the UK’s independent committee on climate change, said that there is enough onshore wind already in planning to meet the EU’s 2020 targets, echoing the comments of Britain’s Energy Minister, Michael Fallon, who said that onshore wind farms which had not been granted planning permission before next year’s general election would not be subsidised.

The party has also said it would change the law within six months of coming into power, giving local councils in England and Wales the authority to accept or reject any future applications for large onshore windfarms.

But the Government has been accused of ignoring its own research on energy policy after the majority of people living in Britain said they would prefer to live near a wind farm than a fracking site.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by green energy company Ecotricity, said that given the choice, 62 per cent of the 2,061 people surveyed would rather have a wind farm near to their home, while only 19 per cent would prefer to live in an area where the ground was being fracked for shale gas.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been conducting its own Public Attitudes Tracking Survey since July 2012 – with the latest results showing that 64 per cent support onshore wind, with only 28 per cent of people supporting fracking in the UK.

Reports also suggest that the Government is to offer greater commitment to solar and offshore wind at the expense of onshore wind.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: “Sacrificing onshore wind for offshore wind and solar makes no economic sense, especially in these times of austerity and cuts.

“Onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy available to us; large solar projects cost bill payers 50 per cent more per unit of energy made, while offshore wind costs 100% more than onshore.

“We need all three forms of renewables for our long-term energy security, and keeping onshore wind in the mix keeps the overall cost of green energy down.”