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Offshore wind: taking up the load

Tom Edwards Senior Consultant

BEIS released its Allocation Framework for CfD Round 3 (AR3) on 21 January 2019, which included a new load factor for offshore wind of 58.4%. This compares to 47.7% for AR2 and 37.7% for AR1 in 2017 and 2014 respectively, marking significant anticipated improvements to efficiency and lower levels of intermittency should these load factors be achieved. The expected improvements are due in part to the increasing size of turbines, with 8MW models currently being deployed, and larger 10MW and 12MW models under development as the technology advances. Onshore wind remains excluded from the CfD (save for on remote islands) and is also limited by informal planning restrictions on the maximum tip height (the highest point of the blade during rotation) for new projects. According to the Renewables Energy planning Database (REPD), the tallest onshore wind turbine with planning consent accepted, under construction or deployed is 152m and the average is 114m. In comparison, the Triton Knoll offshore project has a maximum height of 187m, and a 220m tip height. GE’s planned 12MW Halide-X offshore turbine has a planned height of 260m and an expected load factor of 63%. While restrictions on onshore wind turbine height are maintained projects will be unable to take advantage of the technological improvements to continue to reduce costs. Currently the cheapest source of renewable power, onshore wind faces the prospect of being usurped by offshore wind in the medium-term if planning restrictions are maintained. Analysis by the Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce found that LCOE savings of between £4MWh and &...

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