Onshore wind farms cheapest way to generate electricity in the UK

New onshore wind farms have emerged as the cheapest way for a power company to generate electricity in the UK, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Costs of generating wind power are down to $85 per megawatt hour (MWh) as against the current costs of about $115 for constructing coal or gas-fired plants, according to an analysis.

The price of wind had fallen to $108 just 12 months ago, compared with nuclear which Bloomberg assessed at $190 with escalation from a year ago due to project delays factored in.

The positive picture for renewable power in the UK is reflected across the world as wind and solar technologies continued to fall in price and fossil fuel costs continued to increase.

''Wind is now the cheapest technology in the UK and this means that old rules of thumb, such as 'renewables are expensive' or 'unreliable', need to be updated,'' said Seb Henbest, head of Europe for BNEF.

''Some people still think that wind or other renewables are a luxury that we cannot afford in difficult economic times but costs have been falling fast and they are now competitive (to a greater or lesser extent) worldwide.''

Bloomberg's figures are a ''levelised cost of energy'' (LCOE) which factored in financing, intermittency and other issues, so that different technologies cold be fairly compared. However LCOE excluded the cost of managing intermittent power in the national grid electricity system.

Onshore wind farms currently produce about 60 per cent of the UK's wind power output and were set to remain the predominant form of renewable energy in the next few years.

This is despite opposition that had led to stopping of subsidies. Also the final say on whether a project should go ahead now was with local residents. Green energy advocates, however, say the country was missing a chance to maximise their potential.

The cost of onshore wind power had fallen from $108 per megawatt hour (mWh) a year ago to $85 today, as they become more efficient and cheaper to build.