Offshore 'competitive within decade' says GL boss

Offshore wind energy is likely to become competitive with energy from conventional sources within the next decade, RV Ahilan, president of renewables consultancy GL Garrad Hassan told Recharge.

“I think onshore is already competitive,” Ahilan said on the sidelines of an offshore wind conference in Hamburg. “And in fact, new coal-fire stations do not beat onshore wind.”

Energy from offshore wind is still around 30% to 40% more expensive. “I think we need to bring that cost down. And I believe this is possible within the next decade or even quicker.”

For prices to drop considerably, the offshore sector needs to enter a stage of industrialisation which is “probably still about three to five years away”, the GL Garrad Hassan president said. Innovation is also key, he stressed.

In Germany, where a fledgling offshore wind sector is only now starting to take off, grid connection delays and the reduction of costs and the number of contracting interfaces are the main challenge, he added.

Key to reaching economies of scale and thus bring costs down is the standardisation of production processes, Ahilan told an audience at the offshore conference.

Germany has a target of reaching 10GW of offshore wind power by 2020, but so far has only 280MW of sea-based capacity connected to the grid, mostly due to delays in grid connections.