DOE Reports High Electricity Cost For Offshore Wind Turbines

The 2012 estimated cost of electricity for offshore wind turbines was 2.7 times higher than the cost of electricity produced by ground based wind turbines, ref. 1. The DOE goal: By 2030 the estimated cost of electricity for offshore wind turbines will be 2.2 times more expensive than the cost of electricity produced by on shore wind turbines. By 2030, (sixteen years from now) the DOE, if successful, will have reduced the comparative cost of electricity by only 18%.

The DOE wind energy budget for FY2014 is $88.1 million. The DOE is requesting $115.0 million to support wind energy for FY 2015. Assuming the FY2015 budget remains constant to FY2030, the total sixteen year expenditure for wind energy will be $1.84 billion. The question is: Are U.S. taxpayers making a wise investment by allowing the government to continue development of offshore wind turbines? The DOE is not guaranteeing to meet their FY2030 target electricity cost estimate for offshore wind turbines. Experience has shown that our government rarely meets their project cost estimates. Actual government project costs have a long history of exceeding their original estimates.

For comparative purposes the DOE identifies wind turbine cost of energy as “Levelized Cost of Energy” and is presented in terms of cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh), ref. 1. A reference, or baseline cost of energy was selected, by the DOE for the year 2012. The cost of energy values presented are reduced, or discounted, by 7%. For land-based wind turbines the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) in 2012 was estimated at 7.5 cents/kilowatt-hour (c/kWh). The LCOE for fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines was estimated at 20.0 cents/kilowatt-hour in 2012. The DOE target electricity cost (LCOE) for ground based wind turbines is 5.8 c/kWh by 2020. The target DOE LCOE for offshore wind turbines is 13.0 c/kWh by the year 2030.

Ref. 1 “DOE FY2015 Congressional Budget Request”, DOE/CF-0098, Vol. 3, April 2014