Offshore wind competitiveness in mature markets without subsidy

Image credit: Jansen at al.


Offshore wind energy development has been driven by government support schemes; however, recent cost reductions raise the prospect of offshore wind power becoming cheaper than conventional power generation. Many countries use auctions to provide financial support; however, differences in auction design make their results difficult to compare. Here, we harmonize the auction results from five countries based on their design features, showing that offshore wind power generation can be considered commercially competitive in mature markets. Between 2015 and 2019, the price paid for power from offshore wind farms across northern Europe fell by 11.9±1.6% per year. The bids received in 2019 translate to an average price of €51±3 MWh-1, and substantially different auction designs have received comparably low bids. The level of subsidy implied by the auction results depends on future power prices; however, projects in Germany and the Netherlands are already subsidy-free, and it appears likely that in 2019 the United Kingdom will have auctioned the world’s first negative-subsidy offshore wind farm.

Nature Energy