UMass: Wind energy becoming more cost-effective

  • ERIN D. BAKER

  • This Oct. 2011, photo provided by Principle Power shows a WindFloat Prototype (WF1) handoff to ocean going tug vessel, Sado River Estuary near Setubal, Portugal. Massive wind turbines could end up floating in deep ocean waters off Hawaii's shores under proposals to bring more renewable energy to the islands. Two companies have proposed offshore wind turbine projects for federal waters off Oahu as Hawaii pushes to meet its aggressive renewable energy goals. Hawaii has set a goal for its utilities to use 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2045. (Joshua Weinstein/Principle Power via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT Joshua Weinstein

Published: 10/12/2016 10:41:23 PM

AMHERST — A panel of international wind power experts, in a study designed by the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Erin D. Baker and others, says technology advancements are expected to continue to drive down the cost of wind energy. The survey of the world’s foremost wind power experts led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, anticipates cost reductions of 24 to 30 percent by 2030 and 35 to 41 percent by 2050, under a median or “best guess” scenario, driven by bigger and more efficient turbines, lower capital and operating costs and other advancements.

Baker is a professor of industrial engineering and operations research in the UMass Amherst College of Engineering specializing in energy technology policy. Baker is a world leader in the field of collecting and using expert forecasts about technological change in the energy industry.

The findings are described in an article in the journal Nature Energy published in Sept. 12.

The study summarizes a global survey of 163 wind energy experts. Three wind applications were covered: onshore (land-based) wind, fixed-bottom offshore wind and floating offshore wind.

Baker says the new study highlights the overall downward trend in wind energy costs and also points out areas of uncertainty within long-term cost estimates. “This study highlights the opportunity space for wind, especially offshore wind, with radical cost reductions possible in the right policy environment. The recent bill aimed at promoting offshore wind in Massachusetts is the kind of thing that can help us move forward in the areas that the experts’ emphasized — foundations, installation and economies of scale for offshore wind turbines.”

In absolute terms, onshore wind is expected to remain less expensive than offshore, at least for typical projects — and fixed-bottom offshore wind less expensive than floating wind plants.




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