The cost of wind power will only continue to fall with the introduction of larger and more efficient wind turbines, as well as lower capitals and operating cost. According to the study of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the cost of wind power is expected to decrease by 17-35% in 2035, followed by another reduction of 37-49% in 2050.
The continuously decreasing cost of wind power means that a brand new evaluation method is required. This particular study collects the observation and analysis on onshore wind power, offshore wind power, and floating wind power that was conduced by 140 experts; it comprises of a forecast on the future cost of wind power, actuating factors, technology trends, and the reinforcement on grid facilities. Based on the relevant study, the costs of the three major types of wind energy is forecasted to be halved compared to the study conducted by LBNL in 2015.
In the best case scenario, by comparing the baseline value of 2019, the experts forecasted the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of the three wind energy technologies to drop to 17-35%, with another reduction of 37-49% in 2050. Among these, LCOE reflects the cost per unit of power output within the lifespan of power plants, which can be used to evaluate technological progresses.
The team believes that there are five major factors affecting LCOE, including the initial capital expenditure, ongoing operating cost, capacity factor, design and lifespan of the power plant, and capital expenditure. The particular study shows that offshore wind power has a larger reduction of LCOE, though with a more prominent degree of fluctuation; thus, the difference of cost between fixated and floating offshore wind power has somewhat diminished. Experts estimate the cost of onshore, fixated, and floating offshore wind power to decrease drastically, but there are still significant uncertainties to the actual condition.
Onshore and offshore wind power technology have matured long ago, yet there is still a significant room for improvement and further reduction in cost. Some experts even predict that there is a 10% possibility that the relevant technologies will reduce 38-53% of the cost in 2035, followed by another reduction of 54-64% in 2050.
It all depends on the dimension of the wind turbines. The average capacity of a single onshore wind turbine is expected to increase from 2.5GW in 2019 to 5.5GW in 2035, whereas offshore wind turbines are also marching towards large-scale implementation from an average capacity of 6MW in 2019 to 17GW in 2035. Floating offshore wind power is also increasing in visibility, where a market ratio of 25% is anticipated in 2035.
The currently surging installed capacity of wind power will have to depend on the cost and value in the longer term. Existing predictors are forecasting that the decrement of wind energy cost will be faster than expected, and experts are also estimating continuously decreasing cost for both onshore and offshore wind power, with higher value in use.
Joachim Feel, co-author of the study conducted by LBNL, summarized that wind energy will shoulder an even more critical role in the global supply of energy, as well as accelerate the speed of carbon extrication for the energy field, should the cost fall as anticipated. Analysts, investors, project developers, and policy stipulators must also avoid proposing obsolete hypothesis and forecasts. Simultaneously, uncertain factors must be incorporated during the modelling and policy stipulation process owing to ambiguities in the reduction of cost.
(Cover photo source: pixabay)