Wind power cheaper than nuclear energy for the first time ever

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Energy from offshore wind turbines is cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time ever. 

The costs of subsidies for new offshore wind farms have reached a record low, halving in less than three years. 

Two wind farm firms have secured a state-backed price for their output which is significantly lower than Britain’s newest nuclear power site, Hinkley Point C.

The firms said they were willing to build offshore wind farms for a guaranteed price of £57.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23. 

This is a third cheaper than the £92.50 per megawatt hour offered by Hinkley Point.

The figures for offshore wind, from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, were revealed as the result of an auction for subsidies, in which the lowest bidder wins.

An offshore wind farm near Clacton-on-Sea (Reuters / Toby Melville)

In 2015, offshore wind farm projects won subsidies between £114 and £120 per megawatt hour.

Falling prices are thought to be a result of bigger turbines and higher voltage cables. 

The newest offshore wind turbines stand at 200m high, taller than the Gherkin building in the City. They are expected to double in size in the next decade. 

Wind power is a low-carbon source of renewable energy, meaning it will be continuously replenished. Unlike nuclear power, it does not produce toxic waste products which take hundreds of years to decay. 

But the nuclear industry has said a “mix” of different energy sources is still required as wind power is intermittent. 

Tom Greatrex, a spokesman for the Nuclear Industry Association said: “Reports that the cost of future offshore wind projects may fall (if they are constructed) is good news, but as the UK renewable trade body, informed commentators and industry experts have made clear, one technology alone can’t solve the UK’s power challenge.”

He added: “There is no one single, silver bullet solution to meet this challenge, and the simplistic technology v technology debate fails to appreciate that different power sources provide different elements of the balanced energy mix we need for the future.”

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