What Does Offshore Wind Power Really Cost?

Reposted from Not A Lot Of People Know That

FEBRUARY 7, 2021

By Paul Homewood

See the source image

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, we keep being assured that offshore wind costs have tumbled to under £50/MWh.

The US Energy Information Administration however don’t agree. They regularly assess the levelised costs of all power sources, and only a year ago calculated that the cost of offshore wind was $115.04/MWh, roughly £84/MWh, at current prices.

Their figure does include transmission costs of $3.15, so excluding this we are looking at £82/MWh.



You cannot of course simply compare generation costs, which the EIA have done, as there are associated system costs involved, as BEIS explain:



As Table 7.1 shows, these hidden costs could range between £15 and £35/MWh for offshore wind. By contrast, CCGT actually results in lower wider system costs (note the levelised cost of £82/MWh for CCGT includes a fake carbon cost of £32/MWh).


Adding these extra system costs on to the US costings will take the true cost of offshore wind power to £100/MWh or more.

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February 7, 2021 10:58 am

Renewable energy advocates can point to some credible numbers that bolster their argument for wind power.

This website puts the numbers in useful context. As long as you don’t care when you get electricity, wind power does appear to be economically feasible. If you do care, the website calls that buffered wind energy. It then falls off the EROEI* cliff. That means it doesn’t provide enough energy to meet its own needs plus supply energy to society in a useful fashion.

*EROEI – Energy Returned On Energy Invested. It takes energy to get energy.

Last edited 1 year ago by commieBob
Reply to  commieBob
February 7, 2021 5:27 pm

If you went to a gas station and there was a new gas that stated it wasn’t sure when it would work. Would you buy it?

Reply to  commieBob
February 8, 2021 7:54 am

Do they include the cost of alternative generating capacity for those times when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining?

Reply to  MarkW
February 9, 2021 5:25 am

As far as I can tell, that’s what they mean by ‘buffered’.

Ron Long
February 7, 2021 11:01 am

I’m sure P. Gosselin and his neighbors in upper Germany are studying this chart right now to see which electricity generation option they will support in the future. Notice that the offshore wind turbines and wind turbines and solar voltaic did not include any of that nasty Environmental Impact assessment because they are the only industry allow to chop up or burn our flying friends. What happens to birds offshore have a negative wind turbine encounter? Underneath the turbines would be a great place to fish!

Reply to  Ron Long
February 7, 2021 11:37 am

mega sharks feeding on diced albatros.

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Peter W
Reply to  Ron Long
February 7, 2021 3:41 pm

Think of the savings from not having to clean all that bird poop off from everything.

Reply to  Ron Long
February 10, 2021 6:06 am

MInnesota considered a law allowing windmills to kill bald eagles. I do not know if it passed.

Bill Toland
February 7, 2021 11:05 am

The costs of offshore wind power have been deliberately under stated.


Richard Page
Reply to  Bill Toland
February 7, 2021 3:26 pm

If anything, even the 20 year lifespan for wind turbines may be slightly optimistic; data from Denmark showed a significant number started failing (irreparably) in the 15-20 year range.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Richard Page
February 7, 2021 4:57 pm

The MTBF of a windmill is measured not in years but in weeks. In particular the variable eccentric and non axial load placed on the main bearings by a set of rotors that rapidly becomes covered in ice, insects, and/ or eroded by dust spray and dirt impacting at 200mph plus, that is chopping up and down through a boundary layer of high and low speed winds, and is then placed in a regime of high magnetic fields coupled with a salt laden galvanically sub optimum atmosphere, represents just about the worst possible place to put finely balanced machinery from the point of longevity and serviceability. 100 meters up in a raging north sea spray .

The subsonic whumping of a giant turbine is an expression of that lack of balance and load variation as each blade not only passes the mounting tower, but also descends into a layer of slower moving wind near ground level.

The last honest paper I saw had mean time to some sort of failure of between 6 and 9 weeks. And if such failure puts the turbine out of action it may be weeks before the oil burning service boat or helicopter can get the correct parts to the turbine, and the problem rectified.

Turbines BER (beyond economic repair) at 12 yrs old are not uncommon.
compare the problems of replacing a nicely balanced bearing set on a steam turbine in a conveniently placed dry warm turbine hall with inbuilt overhead gantry cranes and the like…on kit that suffers almost no eccentric loads whatsoever, and in low galvanic and magnetic fields.

As the saying goes, if I were trying to arrive at a cost effective turbine generating set, 300 feet up in the North Sea isn’t where I would start…

Last edited 1 year ago by Leo Smith
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 7, 2021 9:28 pm

When I worked at USS back in the 1970s, USS used the waste heat from furnaces to drive generators producing electricity.

When a furnace was shut down and the steel gets poured off; engineers would show up to analyze the generators. They’d set up their gear, apply sensors and sample generator and fan blade vibration.

Over several days, the engineers would develop maps of the generator’s fan blades.
Welders would be brought in and given assignments of exactly where to weld or grind fan blades.
Further generator runs and analysis would fine tune the vibration.

Long time Power plant employees stationed in the Open Hearth told me the generators were installed in 1952 and kept running by meticulous and frequent maintenance.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 7, 2021 11:04 pm

kept running by meticulous and frequent maintenance

Something that is sadly lacking in much of the UK infrastructure these days

Reply to  ATheoK
February 8, 2021 7:11 am

I tried to convince wind turbine OEM and operators to let me install track and balance, and vibration management tools derived from aircraft HUMS sets for years. Not interested.

A third or fourth order FFT would show the effects of various load conditions immediately. The engineers loved it, management didn’t want to know. Apparently having good data made it more expensive to get bonded.

Arc Hemides
Reply to  Richard Page
February 7, 2021 4:57 pm

Are there any functioning wind turbines offshore in the 20 year plus age group? If so what per cent last that long?

Reply to  Richard Page
February 7, 2021 5:09 pm

during the last 10 years turbine life in UK running around 23 year .
limited number changed out so no a currently stable valuel

February 7, 2021 11:19 am

Is there any case of renewables lowering electricity rates for a utility whether government or investor owned outside of a location in the middle of nowhere?

Reply to  Kevin
February 7, 2021 3:22 pm

<i>… energy prices will necessarily increase…</i>

What’s so hard to understand about that? Ever increasing shares of your income will PAY for the “Green dream”. And as a bonus! Everyone’s discretionary incomes will crater … helping to kill off that AWFUL Capitalistic consumerism … Right?

And you’re told you’ll … like it!

Richard Page
Reply to  Kevin
February 7, 2021 3:29 pm

Nope. Not a one. From land leases to electricity supply, they are all simply intended as cash cows for the investors. The whole idea is to make money for a few years then sell your shares to the gullible before the wind or solar farm falls apart.

February 7, 2021 11:32 am

Wind power is already in a struggle to keep up with utility PV in the U.S. and another 20 to 30 percent cost reduction of solar is coming within 4 years. Going offshore for wind will not help on cost unless policy and govt. spending warp the market severely. Mr. Market will stick with solar. The wind version of Solyndra will depend on bad energy policy to get ahead, which is not a bad bet in the sordid continuum of bad energy policy at every turn.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 11:51 am

As long as you are willing to freeze in the dark.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
February 7, 2021 12:15 pm

I’m counting on market diversity not advocacy absolutes.

Richard Page
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 3:31 pm

Good luck with that. Seriously – I think you’re going to need all the help you can get.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 4:37 pm

The only purpose solar serves, is to make real power systems more expensive.

David A
Reply to  MarkW
February 8, 2021 5:55 am

The hidden subsidy for solar and wind is that they often have a legal mandate that allows them to receive dollars for every watt they generate. This in affect handicaps the steady state generators to spin down, and produce much less energy then they are capable of.

Their revenue is subtainally reduced, and their operational costs are substantially raised!
( It is kind of like alarmists elevating the current raw temperature readings, and lowering the past)

The reported cost of production of steady state generation is considerably higher then it would be if solar and wind were non existent!

Beta Blocker
Reply to  David A
February 8, 2021 7:35 am

David A said: “The hidden subsidy for solar and wind is that they often have a legal mandate that allows them to receive dollars for every watt they generate. This in affect handicaps the steady state generators to spin down, and produce much less energy then they are capable of. Their revenue is substantially reduced, and their operational costs are substantially raised! ( It is kind of like alarmists elevating the current raw temperature readings, and lowering the past.) The reported cost of production of steady state generation is considerably higher than it would be if solar and wind were non existent!”

David A, another shorthand descriptive phrase for the situation you describe here is ‘energy market distortion.’

Giving intermittent wind and solar priority access to the grid prevents cheaper baseload power from running in its most economical mode, i.e, in near continuous operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Energy market distortion makes wind and solar power appear to be cheaper than coal, nuclear, and gas-fired baseload, even though it isn’t when all cost factors are taken into account.

Before this decade is out, roughly one-third of America’s legacy nuclear capacity, 37 GW of baseload, will have been retired.

The oncoming 4th generation SMR nuclear plants are much more capable of load following in support of wind and solar than are the third generation plants. The first of the plants is likely to be the NuScale design which is now slated for operation in late 2029.

Many if not most of the advocates of the SMR’s are heavily promoting these new technologies as a no carbon solution to wind and solar’s intermittency.

However, those same advocates are also promoting wind and solar itself, in spite of the fact that energy market distortion caused by the renewables is forcing cheaper no-carbon legacy nuclear off the grid.

What these advocates don’t tell us is that in the 2030’s, the new 4th generation SMRs will be replacing only a small fraction of the 37 GW of baseload nuclear capacity which had been retired in the 2020’s.

The prognosis for electric power in the 2030’s is for severe shortages of electrical energy which require mandated energy conservation measures including rolling blackouts.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 1:16 pm

Are the new PV panels cabable of generating at night, in the winter and in storms and cloud?
That would be great.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Billy
February 7, 2021 4:59 pm

and when covered in guano…and lichen…

Reply to  Billy
February 7, 2021 11:07 pm

IIRC, they are in Spain

The Spanish were connecting diesel generators during the hours of darkness to sell the electricity to the grid 🙂

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 1:50 pm

Solar doesn’t work at night or in winter when the panels are covered in ice.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Eric Worrall
February 7, 2021 2:01 pm

Today in AB it is cold but also brilliantly clear and sunny, so bright it triggered a migraine in my wife

At this moment our solar is producing zero percent, it was at 5% at noon, 3 hours ago


Wind at 1.7%, solar at zero
4.4 million people frozen to death if the grid was “green”.

Actually a solution many greens endorse, some sort of “final solution” to this human infestation.

Peter W
Reply to  Eric Worrall
February 7, 2021 3:43 pm

I read recently that wind turbines also don’t work very well when the blades are covered with ice.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
February 7, 2021 4:39 pm

Nor do they work when it’s heavily overcast.
Nor do they work when covered with dust, or bird poop.

Mark Thomas
Reply to  MarkW
February 8, 2021 6:42 am

Did you mean bird guts?

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 4:35 pm

Being slightly better than a complete disaster is hardly something to be proud of.
Advocates have been declaring that there will be a significant decrease in PV power in couple of years, for decades.
Yet it never manifests.
Regardless, the problem of being intermittent is still a fatal one for solar. Both the problem of day/night, but the problem with clouds.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 9:25 pm

Mr. Market will stick with solar.

If it were entirely up to Mr. Market, the Market would stick with a coal fired power plant for baseline power, and CCGT for peaking power. Seriously, a coal power plant without the negative press attached is still cheaper than even gas. Even after Obama’s “War On Coal” that he lied about never happening.

February 7, 2021 11:43 am

Not in my backyard is about to turn into not on my beach walk in the northeast. Look out Virginia, Carolinas, and Georgia, something evil this way comes.

old engineer
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 4:38 pm

“Look out Virginia, Carolinas, and Georgia…” I Can’t imagine anyone stupid enough to build wind turbines off the coast of these states. Hardly a year goes by but that a least one hurricane tracks along the coast of these states. Many years more than one.

Maybe a wind turbine could survive a Cat. 1 hurricane, but a Cat 3 to 5?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  old engineer
February 8, 2021 11:04 am

I think one of Biden’s goals is to double the amount of off-shore windmills we currently have by the year 2030.

John Kerry said the other day that we only had nine more years until Climate Disaster, so does doubling our off-shore windmill numbers solve that problem or not?

I thought the only way to solve the problem was to go to Zero CO2, but that’s not going to happen by 2030, and doubling off-shore windmill numbers isn’t going to lower the amount of CO2 that much. Not even close.

So what’s Kerry talking about? That’s a rhetorical question, because the fact is, Kerry does not know what he is talking about.

Delusional people have taken over our government, and Kerry is one of the more delusional among them. He does have plenty of competition though.

February 7, 2021 11:55 am

Okay, but my electricity usage per month comes in kilowatt hours, not megawatt hours, so I’m not sure just how to take this. If their nefarious plan is to somehow imply that I use more electricity generated by wind than I use generated by “other” sources, they’ll have to provide proof of the source of the excess.

When do we start looking around for New World land to settle? 🙂

Peta of Newark
February 7, 2021 11:55 am

Its called Cronyism
So tiring, predicatable and as old as the hills.

  • Somebody kicks up fuss about something anything- ‘Government MUST act’
  • By whatever means, fuss is amplified and Government sets about ‘action’
  • Action always involves spending tax revenue
  • Folks in a position to help Government (e.g. Windmill makers or vaccine suppliers) go through the motions of Competitive Tender
  • Government convinces self it has ‘A Good Deal’ and signs on the line
  • Then, ‘extra costs’ start appearing. e.g. the price of steel, copper, neodymium, safety compliance costs, wildlife damage minimisation, the appearance of the highly endangered greater lesser spotty non spotty bog-rat-toad. You get the drift.
  • But Government has to accommodate these extra costs. It CAN NOT be seen to lose face or have made a foul up of the initial tendering
  • Because there is effectively only One Buyer in the market, things pan-out (Read=Costs skyrocket) exactly as if there was only one supplier
  • Government has efficiently crippled itself and Cronies cash in in Epic Style so as to ‘help’ Government out of their own mess – by for example, putting out rumours about ‘Falling Costs’
  • Then the suppliers to the suppliers latch on and it all just goes off the scale

All the while, nobody inside Government can be seen to have made a mistake and if so accused, all Governments are now so huge/bloated, buck passing goes Galactic.
In a futile attempt of course, to catch up with and reign in the skyrocketing costs

It Happens Every. Single. Time.
with hi speed rail, all attempt at new computer and or software upgrades, with London Cross-Rail, with motorways, farm support, benefit reforms, Heathrow airport etc etc etc

At some point, as happened about 2,000 years ago in Rome, the system, this system will collapse.
It is a Positive Feedback Death Spiral – as Mrs Thatcher noted about ‘Other People’s Money’
Yet we persist, every time hoping it will ‘Come Good’
And it does come good, just ask the next Ancient Roman you meet.

Richard Page
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 7, 2021 3:36 pm

Oddly enough, David Cameron was extremely keen to air his green credentials by pushing for wind energy. His father-in-law, a landowner, was one of the first to lease land to a government approved and subsidised wind farm. It’s all been about crony capitalism.

Reply to  Richard Page
February 7, 2021 4:45 pm

There is no such thing as crony capitalism. The proper name of this phenomena is crony socialism. Government taking money and giving it to crony’s, is socialism, not capitalism.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
February 8, 2021 11:17 am

It’s is not even socialism, it is fascism. Only in this case, it is not for the good of the state but for the good of the globe!

Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 8, 2021 7:17 am

Mrs Thatcher noted about ‘Other People’s Money’

And Ben Franklin before her, democracy only works until a majority figures out they can just vote to take other people’s money.

David Roger Wells
February 7, 2021 11:57 am

The excess costs of Weather Dependent Renewable power generation in the EU(28): 2020 – Watts Up With That? You have to look at capital costs/GW of capacity. For £1 Billion spent on coal or gas generation plant you get 1GW of realisable capacity at the flick of a switch. A 2.5mw turbine costs £3 million therefore 1GW of capacity costs £1.2 billion multiplied by 3 assuming 30% efficiency which is £3.6 billion but on any given day you still could not guarantee being able to boil and egg.

  • G. B. National Grid status (templar.co.uk) Demand 44.07GW, wind 3.04GW. Number of 2.5MW turbines needed to meet demand 127,000 or 319GW’s. Demand 44.68GW’s Wind 3.27GW’s Number of 2.5MW turbines needed to meet demand 120.208 or 300GW’s of turbine capacity. Demand 44.23GW Wind 2.93GW turbines needed 132,000 or 330GW’s. Demand 46.82GW Wind 3.54Gw number of turbines needed 116,336 or 291GW’s. Demand 36.90GW’s Wind 4.62GW’s number of turbines needed 70,400 or 176GW’s of capacity. Coal 2.86GW’s. Demand 39.88GW’s Wind 5.61GW’s turbines needed 61,600 or 154GW’s of capacity, Coal 2.84GW’s. So much for an extra 40GW’s how about the 3300GW’s we need right now? G. B. National Grid status (templar.co.uk) Demand 40.50GW’s Wind 0.27GW’s. Therefore today – Sunday – the UK would need 1.32 million 2.5MW wind turbines to meet demand or 3300GW’s of supply just to generate 40.50GW’s of electricity. You can get 1GW of reliable supply for £1 billion with coal or methane like 50GW’s for £50 billion. Each turbine costs £3 million therefore that is £3.9 trillion just for the turbines. Every MW generated by a wind turbine consumes 200 times more raw finite materials than a MW generated by coal or methane. You need 50 acres of land mass for 1MW of wind electricity so you would need 165 million acres of land but the UK has only 66 million acres. G. B. National Grid status (templar.co.uk) Demand 43.64GW, CCGT 22.07GW’s Nuclear 6.30GW’s, Biomass 2.93GW’s, Wind 5.61GW’s, Coal 1.53GW’s, Solar 30GW’s. Therefore today to meet the demand of 43.64GW’s the UK would need 68,464 2.5MW wind turbines or 171GW’s covering 8.6 million acres. In 2017 the UK experienced 7 consecutive months of windless days. There is no battery that can store electricity for seven months but if it did exist the cost would be beyond £32 trillion. And it isn’t even winter yet? 27th November 2020 G. B. National Grid status (templar.co.uk) Demand 40.20GW’s CCGT 23.16GW’s (57.62%) Nuclear 5.73GW’s Biomass (Wood Pellets from USA) 3.01GW’s Wind o.44GW’s Coal 2.52GW’s Solar 1.2GW’s. UK would need 803,968 2.5MW wind turbines to meet demand or 2009.92GW’s of capacity. If solar 40GW’s of solar. At 1MW /50 acres Vattenfall would need 100 million acres of land – UK has 66 million acres – on or off shore to meet demand at a cost of £2.4 trillion. Whereas the UK could buy 50GW’s of coal or methane generation at £1 billion/GW. Lord Deben has not denied an all electric UK would have a peak winter load of 150GW’s 3.33 times our current peak load. Zero Co2 for the UK between £6 and £7 trillion to mitigate 0.000187% of global Co2 emissions. Every road street and path would need to be dug up at a cost of £466 billion but if like HS2 that cost could double and triple. We remain thankfully within an interglacial which is relatively benign in climate terms but the next ice age is overdue and by 2100 the mile high ice which existed where your farm is during the last glaciation might have returned. The natural cycle despite what you are obliged to believe within the climate catastrophist narrative has not been broken. Coal Outperforms Wind Power During UK Wind Week! | Watts Up With That? A month ago we would have needed 1.6 million 2.5MW wind turbines, then 176,000. The cost of rewiring the UK for an all electric UK is estimated at £466 billion.
Simon W Edge
Reply to  David Roger Wells
February 7, 2021 5:07 pm

Hop to it! Go out to Lands End and make more land for turbine towers to stand on! Can call it ‘Whingingwindlands’

David A
Reply to  David Roger Wells
February 8, 2021 6:39 am

David, paragraphs are useful tools for useful information.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  David Roger Wells
February 8, 2021 11:22 am

You just stumbled onto the One World Government scheme. The UK can buy it energy from somewhere else, but you need a OWG to control how that works. The OWG can determine who and where power comes from and how.

Rud Is or
February 7, 2021 11:59 am

The previous EIA LCOE onshore wind estimates were off (too low) by a factor of about 1.5x. Dissected the main reasons why some years ago in post ‘True Cost of Wind’ over at Climate Etc. Several major things, all buried in the methodology details and footnotes.

As just one example, EIA assumed wind, CCGT, and coal all have a useful plant life of 30 years when annualizing (annuitizing) their capital costs. That is simply false. Siemens and GE guarantee 40 years for their CCGT, while in fact wind turbines are decommissioned after about 20 years owing to main axial bearing wear. This results from asymmetrical blade loading (wind speed is higher aloft, so blades are never equally loaded so ‘wobble’ and produce bearing wear). The problem cannot be engineered around.

These ‘errors’ suggest offshore wind is also likely ~1.5x higher than the new EIA estimate.

February 7, 2021 12:11 pm

This offshore wind hum does not sound good….

Healthy oceans need healthy soundscapes — ScienceDaily

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 3:21 pm

Without comment on possible human effects—“The deep, dark ocean is conceived as a distant, remote ecosystem, even by marine scientists,” Duarte said. “However, as I was listening, years ago, to a hydrophone recording acquired off the U.S. West Coast, I was surprised to hear the clear sound of rain falling on the surface as the dominant sound in the deep-sea ocean environment. I then realized how acoustically connected the ocean surface, where most human noise is generated, is to the deep sea; just 1,000 m, less than 1 second apart!” Must not have been much other noise up there. Do breaking waves obscure the sound of rain on the ocean?

Of course the abstract (2 dozen +l authors)got this most relevant point in along with other comments about ( in Outlook) action for “policies to become more ambitious”. “Climate change is affecting geophony (abiotic, natural sounds).” The soundscape of the Anthropocene ocean. Science, 2021; 371 (6529): eaba4658 DOI: 10.1126/science.aba4658

Reply to  H. D. Hoese
February 7, 2021 9:32 pm

Breaking waves are a phenomenon of coastlines only. Out at sea, where the ocean bottom relative to wave height can be taken as infinite, there are no breaking waves.

Steve Richards
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
February 8, 2021 4:27 am

You’ve not been to sea in a storm!!

willem post
February 7, 2021 12:14 pm


Regarding wind and solar, cost shifting is rarely mentioned, identified or quantified. Those costs, as c/kWh, could be quantified, but it is politically expedient, using various, often far-fetched reasons, to charge them to:

– Directly to ratepayers, via electric rate schedules, and/or added taxes, fees and surcharges on electric bills
– Directly to taxpayers, such as carbon taxes, user fees and surcharges.
– Directly to federal and state budgets and debts

Per Economics 101, no cost ever disappears. 
Eventually, the various shifted wind and solar costs, plus direct and indirect wind and solar subsidies, would increase the prices of energy and of other goods and services.
Efficiency and productivity improvements elsewhere in the energy sector, and other sectors of the economy, may partially, or completely, offset such increases.
However, wind and solar subsidies would divert capital from other sectors of the economy, which likely would result in fewer improvements in efficiency and productivity in these sectors.
Lifecycle Cost Analysis of Existing and New Electricity Sources

This report uses publicly available data to estimate the average levelized cost of electricity from existing generation resources (LCOE-Existing), as compared to the levelized cost of electricity from new generation resources (LCOE-New) that might replace them.

The additional information provided by LCOE-Existing presents a more complete picture of the generation choices available to the electric utility industry, policymakers, regulators and consumers.
Existing coal-fired power plants can generate electricity at an average LCOE of $41 per megawatt-hour, whereas the LCOE of a new coal plant, operating at a similar duty cycle, would be $71 per MWh.
Similarly, existing combined-cycle gas power plants (CCGTs) can generate electricity at an average LCOE of $36 per MWh, whereas the LCOE of a new CCGT gas plant would be $50 per MWh.
Non-dispatchable wind and solar impose a cost on the dispatchable generators which are required to remain in service for peaking, filling in and balancing, 24/7/365, to ensure reliable electricity service.
Non-dispatchable means the output of wind and solar depends on factors beyond our control (the wind blowing and the sun shining) and cannot be relied upon for peaking, filling in and balancing.
Wind and solar increase the LCOE of dispatchable resources by reducing their utilization rates without reducing their fixed costs, resulting in a levelized fixed cost increase, i.e., higher c/kWh.
This report estimates the “imposed cost” of wind generation at about $24 per MWh, or 2.4 c/kWh, if CCGT gas generation performs the peaking, filling in and balancing.

The CCGT plants compensate for the erratic outputs of wind and solar by inefficiently ramping up and down their outputs at part load, and inefficiently making more frequent starts and stops.

All that decreases annual production of CCGT plants, adversely affects their economic viability, increases Btu/kWh and CO2/kWh, and increases wear and tear, all at no cost to the wind and solar multi-millionaires. 

This report estimates the “imposed cost” of wind generation at about $24 per MWh, or 2.4 c/kWh, if CCGT gas generation performs the peaking, filling in and balancing.

This report estimates the “imposed cost” of solar generation at about $21 per MWh, or 2.1 c/kWh, if CCGT gas generation performs the peaking, filling in and balancing.

As a result, existing coal ($41), CCGT gas ($36), nuclear ($33) and hydro ($38) are less than half the cost of new wind ($90) or new PV solar ($88.7), if imposed costs were included.

NOTE: The imposed cost on ratepayers and taxpayers of various direct and indirect wind and solar subsidies are an entirely separate issue.

Reply to  willem post
February 7, 2021 1:40 pm

Underneath every wind turbine is a foundation made possible by fossil fuel.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  willem post
February 7, 2021 2:13 pm

You’re right, so-called levelized costs aren’t level at all. Consider it from the opposite direction; what’s the VALUE of non-dispatchable power?

Assume a fossil fuel/nuclear power grid that fully meets demand. Add a solar array, wind turbine or unicorn intermittently providing up to 100% of demand for free with semi-predicable outages of minute, hours, or days.

What happens to total system costs? In the real world, all the existing equipment is still needed to cover intermittent shortfalls. Capital, operating, and maintenance costs remain the same or increase due to cycling. Only fuel costs are reduced.

Thus, the value of non-dispatchable power is at most the avoided fuel cost for the back-up systems. When oil was $120/bbl and looking increasingly scare, PV and wind had some economic promise. Now it’s just driven by the politics of Climate Change hysteria.

February 7, 2021 12:32 pm

LCOE costs are not “level” unless they assess the total costs of guaranteed supply to meet demand over say a month. To cost solar, add in the costs of batteries or gas generators so that demand is met 24×7. So if we have a 1 GW solar generator that varies output from 0-800 MW, average 200 MW, add the cost of a 200 MW gas generator. And that still leaves the problem of what other generators must cut back when solar hits its midday peak output.
To cost wind, add in the costs of the back up generators for when the wind doesn’t blow, and add in the extra costs of the network that must cope with wind spikes over double its average output.

Reply to  Robber
February 7, 2021 1:06 pm

So the gas generators who added solar arrays don’t know their business?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 1:54 pm

Subsidy farming

Common practice

Paul Johnson
Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 1:55 pm

Maybe they know the “renewables” mandates that make solar arrays necessary and the fat taxpayer subsidies that make them “profitable”.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2021 4:52 pm

Nice attempt at distracting.
Are you even capable of making an honest argument in favor of PV?

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 8, 2021 8:00 am

Do away with the subsidies. The best of breed will still win.

Rooftop solar should be penalized, not just having subsidy removed. Also, we don’t need more govt research funding at this point.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 8, 2021 8:40 am

You’re correct about the subsidies, but the best of breed has already won and it ain’t unreliable.

February 7, 2021 12:51 pm

Wow! £100/MWh is insanely expensive.

Leo Smith
Reply to  PaulH
February 7, 2021 5:06 pm

system prices peaked at £4000/MWh the last near collapse we had on the UK grid. a few weeks ago.

No. That is NOT a typo.

Climate believer
February 7, 2021 1:29 pm

The real kicker, apart from the price, the wind might not blow when you need it.

Here in France unreliable windmills produced about 7% of the electricity in 2019. That’s up 20% on 2018.

Nuclear 70%…why are we bothering?

Leo Smith
Reply to  Climate believer
February 7, 2021 5:21 pm


WUWT readers should have understood that in this game we have two sorts of people which I generically class as engineers (“you want a frier? OK, where?”) and Art students (“You want fries with that? Have a nice day”).

Each operates on a different metaphysical principle. The engineer is a Realist. He believes the world does not change according to what you believe.

The Art student is an Idealist. He believes the world is a social construct, and that reality is whatever people can be induced to think it is.

When it comes to constructing machines, the Realist approach works better.

When it comes to selling machines to hoi polloi, or winning elections, the Idealist approach is fully justified.

People do not buy or vote for what works. They buy or vote for what they believe will work. And, increasingly as they are more divorced from physical reality, for what makes them feel good about themselves.

Understand this, and all confusion disappears.

Renewable energy is a political solution to a political problem, it is a narrative that sells a non operational solution to an non existent problem, in the realms of constructed perceptions about the world.

New shiny thing make everything better, as the Mash headline goes…(google it)

Climate believer
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 8, 2021 2:41 am

“Understand this, and all confusion disappears.”…. I will do my best Obi-Wan….

Pat from kerbob
February 7, 2021 1:52 pm

Doesn’t matter what it costs
If it produces zero when you need it, it has no value

Up to -24c now in calgary
AB wind generation currently at 1.75% of nameplate


Thank goodness for all that coal and gas staving off horrible death

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 7, 2021 2:05 pm

And if you look closely, Wind will never be DCR (dispatched conditional reserve) which means the grid has to take every electron wind produces when ever it produces it.

That is a subsidy.
And forces gas assets to ramp up and down to cover it, garbage power that it is

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 8, 2021 12:31 am

Australia makes wind play by the same rules as the rest apart from the ever reducing subsidy.

A few years back coal generators started bidding a decent slab of energy at the floor price of $1000/MWh. They were confident they could recover any losses during the evening peak when the price was set by gas. Now whenever the price goes negative, the WDGs shut down. They can no longer afford to carry brief periods of negative price because the subsidies are low and getting lower.

Curtailment is a big issue for the industry and providing incentive to pair storage with WDGs.

Retail electricity prices have fallen in Australia through 2020. Covid affecting economic activity and the mildest summer for decades. Hard for generators to make a living in Australia right now. They are also competing with 3 million rooftops that send lunchtime power prices negative on almost daily basis.

2020 was the first year my rooftop was regularly cutting back on over voltage. The local grid is often outside the prescribed voltage limits.

February 7, 2021 2:01 pm

Some of the older readers may remember the American politician who truly worked for a better world the Secretary of State George Shultz who died today.

February 7, 2021 2:13 pm

Do they kill flying fish like they do birds onshore?

Steve Richards
Reply to  bluecat57
February 8, 2021 7:14 am

Not the ones I have seen!!

Kelvin Duncan
February 7, 2021 2:18 pm

Shouldn’t the costs of wind and solar generation include the costs of providing alternatives (backups) for the times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine? Here in New Zealand that would put the cost of wind generation up by about 5 to 20 times, and we are a sunny and windy country.
Alternatively, should the cost of backup construction be added to the cost of wind and solar construction, and the combined depreciation also added?
And are the costs of maintenance and depreciation included? Windmills don’t last long and solar panels become less and less efficient over time. Again, here in New Zealand maintenance crews are working every day to keep the windmills turning!
Just asking.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Kelvin Duncan
February 7, 2021 5:38 pm

Actually New Zealand is, along with some Scandinavian countries and the desert part of the USA, one of the few places where wind power makes economic sense. The requirement for that to be so is very simple. A fairly low population density, plus an abundance of hydroelecric capacity that nevertheless operates at a low capacity factor due to lack of rainfall.

Taking a simplistic example. Consider a 1 GW hydro plant that can only operate at an average of 300MW over the year due to rainfall limitations. By adding 1GW of wind power – that also can only operate at 300MW average due to lack of constant wind, reducing capacity factor, and you now have a combination that will average 600MW and has peak demand capability of 1GW.

In this case all the backup and peak demand following is there all ready. Adding wind nets you extra capacity at the levelised opportunity cost of the turbines alone: that is, you need build no extra dispatchable capacity into the network at all. The wind isn’t displacing fossil fuel, it’s eking out rainfall!

Naturally – as France Sweden and Switzerland have shown – if you have that sort of hydro, the best thing to supplement it with is nuclear. But New Zealand is full of Art Students, and thinks that uranium is a an infinite source of fearful bogeymen. Building profitable wind turbines is simply easier than educating Art Students – who are Art Students anyway because they Couldn’t Do Sums.

February 7, 2021 3:18 pm

This is outdated. The US is behind on the offshore cost curve. Look at the projects which are in the planning phase in Europe today. I used to work at one of the off shore wind companies. A few years ago, business plans were all based around subsidies. These are the wind farms that come online now. Today, there are no subsidies when bidding for new projects in Europe. Competition is brutal with several large players. Everyone can do projects in the North Sea. Every cost is cut to the bone. A new project better be financially sustainable at market prices or it is going nowhere. The new 10+ MW turbines means you get a lot of power out of each turbine. Each turbine is shockingly expensive to install and maintain. Installing bigger but fewer turbines in a wind farm makes it cheaper to build. I’ve worked with nuclear and thermal before, but the folks in wind have the upper hand today. Solar I have no experience with.

Reply to  Colormesceptical
February 7, 2021 4:55 pm

Building a wind turbine makes one an expert in economics?
BTW, the requirement that all power generated by wind turbines must be bought, whether it’s needed or not is a subsidy. The failure to provide power whenever the wind isn’t blowing, is a subsidy.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarkW
Capell Aris
Reply to  MarkW
February 8, 2021 1:09 am

Correct. CfD contracts mean the consumer pays whether or not they want to consume it. And a lot of the real costs are always ‘buried’, such as the subsea grid connections, the retention of CCGTs, at ludicrous load factors, to back up intermittency. We’ll see what happens when some of the offshore wind farms go to the wall – will the government just buy them out to stop the embarrassment?

Bill Toland
Reply to  Colormesceptical
February 8, 2021 4:37 am

Colormesceptical, please read the following link for the actual and increasing costs of offshore wind.


February 7, 2021 3:53 pm

Geothermal is dispatchable? Can someone explain this to me? Based on the above charts it looks like a no-brainer slam dunk compared to Solar/Wind for the Alarmists.
What am I missing and why aren’t they pushing it more? Is it the fact that it requires our tender mother earth to be drilled into?

Reply to  Tom
February 7, 2021 9:42 pm

“Geothermal is dispatchable? Can someone explain this to me?”

Sure, politicans are twisted and deranged and incompetent people- always have been and always will be.
The mystery us why do people encourage them?
We do even give them salary?
They should be required to work for free and be beaten every Tuesday. 

Flight Level
February 7, 2021 4:20 pm

The right question is “How much more ?” will it cost.

These things are airfoils. In fact, quite poorly constructed airfoils.

Before they take them down, please go on “the Tube” and search “leading edge erosion wind turbine”. Amazing !

Contrary to aircraft, windmills operate at low altitudes right into the weather and all that winds can carry. Particles, birds, heil, corrosive salt. Even raindrops are a challenge for very long blade tips often operating at above 70 knots airspeed for extended periods.

Unlike aircraft components, wind turbines privilege “affordable” materials/techniques (glass fibers/epoxy) and are not designed for periodic maintenance by certified engineers in well equipped hangars.

The resulting erosion and structural damage disrupts the airflow and dramatically decreases efficiency. Think, a few mm of ice accreditation can bring down an airliner even with engines at full power setting. Enough said on how much surface state matters for lift generation, correspondingly wind turbine efficiency.

On-site windmills repairs in the middle of nowhere require horrendously costly logistics based on specialized all-weather ships, platform “staff hotels”, chopper lifts and, above all, given the work environment, can not vouch for quality nor durability.

Yep, quite a lot of things green businessmen will omit to mention because, happens, maintenance of windmills is also part of their funded with your money business.

Leo Smith
February 7, 2021 4:38 pm

Note that when capacity factors for UK wind (here quoted at 40/45%) were compared with measured output, as evinced by actual meters attached to major wind farms, capacity factors dropped to 23% onshore and 27% offshore, overall.

The spurious 40% figures are still being touted by lobby groups and in planning applications and indeed in governmental planning articles.

When retrofitted to LCOE calculations the corrected capacity factors raise projected costs by around 70%.

Nevertheless this study seems to be at least moving part way towards a realistic assement of costs – somethig that has been suppressed for a decade by the renewable industry.

Dennis G Sandberg
February 7, 2021 5:37 pm

The last EIA spin sheets that I studied compared costs for gasoline, compressed natural gas, and electric powerd EV’s. Like this “study”, unless I missed it, they fail to show the most fundamental cost assumption: The price of natural gas. If I remember correctly i was able to calculate the assumed proce was $12/million BTU, for gas and $0.12/kwh for electricity. The EV was cheaper (Duh).

Has anyone determined what they used for a natural gas price in this “study”. Here’s what they should have used: (<$2.50/million BTU).

Henry Hub Natural Gas Spot Price (Dollars per Million Btu) – EIAhttp://www.eia.gov › dnav › hist › rngwhhdm

Year, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec. 1997, 3.45, 2.15, 1.89, 2.03, 2.25, 2.20, 2.19, 2.49, 2.88, 3.07, 3.01, 2.35. 1998, 2.09, 2.23, 2.24 …
Gas prices · ‎Nymex · ‎Natural Gas

Capell Aris
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
February 8, 2021 1:18 am

And an article in this Saturday’s Financial Times claimed that prices were rising, and the energy price gap would have to rise by 9%, all because Gas Prices were going up!

Gas is as cheap as chips at the moment. coal even cheaper. Why not electrify our grid using modern, 63 % efficient CCGTs, and use that as a base to push all the other net zero initiatives along>

Robert of Texas
February 7, 2021 5:44 pm

All we have to do is build enough batteries and all problems are solved. (Yes, this is sarcasm)

I just read something in the Wallstreet Journal about how batteries are going to make all forms of green energy work and make fossil fuels extinct – in the next 5 years or so I think it claimed.

They did mention a breakthrough (or maybe it was two) were needed first. No mention of energy costs…those apparently are not relevant. But battery costs were going to keep coming down until everyone depended on them. No mention of resource costs to build all these batteries either.

Me? I am keeping my gas guzzling truck as long as I can. While everyone else is freezing in the winter blackout caused by unreliable energy production I will be sleeping in my nice warm truck listening to Pink Floyd.

Richard Lyman
Reply to  Robert of Texas
February 8, 2021 5:20 am

I read the same article. I do not care how cheap and efficient batteries are slated to become they still need to be charged. There was an oblique reference to replacing all the ICE powered vehicles in San Francisco with BEVs would require 7% more electricity than the city currently consumes, to which I read that the city would suffer more than a 50% shortfall in power supply. The authors did not dwell on the issue so it must not be all that important.

Mike Ozanne
February 8, 2021 12:00 am

Their figure does include transmission costs of $3.15, so excluding this we are looking at £82/MWh.”

Why exclude, there’s no local consumer for it, it has to be transmitted to be usable….

Capell Aris
February 8, 2021 1:11 am

For a thorough analysis of levelised costs and system integration costs as per the the UK, see here:


For more on the cost of future generation systems as per the UK, see here:


February 8, 2021 3:25 am

Renewable energy keeps getting cheaper, but my electric bill keeps getting more expensive….

February 8, 2021 8:00 am

You can very easily look up a large number of recent tenders for UK offshore wind.

with a little more effort you can find German, Dutch, Danish

I suspect the US has no idea of what’s actually happening out there in Europe.

“Despite COVID constraints, Europe confirmed a record amount of €26.3bn of investments in new offshore wind farms in 2020. This will finance 7.1 GW of new offshore wind which will be built in the coming years. Last year Europe built 2.9 GW of new offshore wind. Europe now has 25 GW of offshore wind capacity. The EU aims to have 300 GW by 2050.

According to the latest WindEurope data, Europe raised €26.3bn to finance 7.1 GW of new offshore wind capacity in 2020. The UK, Netherlands, Germany and France all saw final investment decisions for major new offshore wind farms.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
February 8, 2021 11:14 am

Sheer madness for society. Profitable for some.

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