In a milestone for UK renewables, electricity from onshore wind power is now cheaper than from any other source of energy for the first time.
The cost of onshore wind farms has fallen from around £70 per megawatt hour (MWh) a year ago to around £55 today, as they become more efficient and cheaper to build.
Compare this to coal-fired power, which has seen costs rise from nearly £64 a MWh to £75.
The finding is part of a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which shows that worldwide, renewables are closing the cost gap with fossil fuels.
Onshore wind is now cost competitive with coal, oil and gas in many parts of the world – including the UK and Germany – and solar is quickly catching up.
There’s still a tendency for the general public to believe that renewables are really expensive, while coal and gas are really cheap. This is how it used to be not so long ago, but over the past five years technology costs have come down significantly, along with financing costs.
In the face of such success, and with the UK renewables sector continuing to break records, the UK government is at risk of “betting on the wrong horse” as it continues to roll-back support policies for its booming renewables industry in favour of backing out-dated fossil fuels, hitting companies and communities.
Today, Climate Energy, a company specialising in installing solar panels and home insulation, announced it had been forced into liquidation – the second such business in as many days to collapse blaming government policies.
The move follows almost 1,000 redundancies on Wednesday after SunEdison sold its UK business because “draconian policy proposals” by the UK government “will essentially eliminate the solar PV market in the UK”.
The move caused UK-based solar installation company Mark Group was forced to call in administrators.
Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Alasdair Cameron said:
These huge job losses are likely to be the first of many as Government attacks on efforts to build a low-carbon economy begin to bite. Government policy threatens over 20,000 UK solar jobs – with many more at risk in other green sectors. It seems the Treasury is happier to give sky-high subsidies to Chinese nuclear power, than support British solar. The renewable energy industry around the world is booming and costs are falling rapidly, but the UK government seems to be stuck in the wrong century.
While other countries continue to forge ahead with the renewables revolution, in the UK the war currently being waged against clean energy is risking now jobs and investment, as well as threatening to push up energy bills.
With new research showcasing the huge carbon savings that comes with the strong renewables sector, the government is also undermining its own commitment to “cut emissions at the lowest cost” and risking its ability to meet its ambitious climate targets.