The World’s Biggest Turbines and No Subsidies: How Offshore Wind Is Entering a New Era

The days when any sort of wind power needed a subsidy to be commercially viable may soon be over. In one country, they already are.

Three weeks ago, the U.K. launched a third auction in five years aimed at bolstering the share of green energy sources in its electricity supply. The government was offering so-called Contracts for Differences to providers of renewable energy, part of the U.K.’s plan to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

The winning bidders were the prospective operators of a new generation of offshore wind farms that will match nuclear power plants in their generating capacity, powering not thousands, but millions of homes, all developed without subsidies. Though not scheduled to come online until 2023, the projects point to a wholesale reinvention of much of today’s energy sector, as companies that cut their teeth in the world of offshore oil and gas morph into specialists in offshore wind electricity. The transformation has huge consequences for tens of thousands of employees and investors.

Not bad for the industry, which just 10 years ago was considered—more than anything—an ultra-expensive form of green virtue-signaling.


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