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Foreword

Jesse Norman MP
Minister for Industry and Energy

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Offshore wind has been a great UK success story. The industry has delivered on its commitment to reduce costs, providing a critical contribution both to carbon reduction and to national energy supplies, whilst creating thousands of new jobs.

But that is, in turn, a result of the commitment by Government and industry to work together. The Government has provided a legal and regulatory framework that is designed to encourage the development of an efficient and secure low carbon energy generation market.  On its side, the offshore wind industry has set out ambitious cost reduction targets and delivered these earlier than anyone thought possible.

This is a story that is just beginning. There is significant scope for further cost reductions through innovation in engineering and development of the UK supply chain. This will help to build a sustainable industry that will benefit the UK for decades to come.

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Executive Summary

In 2012, the UK Government recognised the potential of offshore wind if it could rapidly bring down costs. It tasked industry with a root and branch review of how to bring down costs and set a target for the UK’s offshore wind industry to bring the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) for offshore wind down by a third to £100/MWh by 2020.

This report shows that this target has been achieved four years ahead of forecast, with the latest industry data – gathered by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult on behalf of industry and government – showing rapidly reducing costs, and high confidence in offshore wind’s ability to go on delivering cost savings through technology innovation and continued collaboration across the sector.

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The early achievement of the 2020 target demonstrates that offshore wind can play a significant role in the UK’s low carbon future.

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Introduction

The Cost Reduction Monitoring Framework (CRMF) takes a structured approach to assess the progress of cost reduction in UK offshore wind projects against key milestones. It was initiated in 2014 by the Offshore Wind Programme Board and the members of the Offshore Wind Industry Council.

The framework was designed by ORE Catapult in conjunction with the Crown Estate. Progress is tracked against milestones that assess the potential of innovations in technology, supply chain and finance to support cost reduction.

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Results

The CRMF results are based on a qualitative and a quantitative assessment. The quantitative assessment uses owners’ project-specific data declared at FID and Works Completion to calculate an industry average LCoE, and the qualitative assessment uses primary market research (questionnaires and interviews) and secondary market research (existing data and analysis) to assess industry progress against pre-agreed milestones and provides an outlook towards 2020 targets. 

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Qualitative Assessment Results

Cost reduction progress was measured for 70 cost reduction indicators. Each area was assessed against a set of milestones that lead to a 2020 target for that indicator. The 70 indicators are weighted by cost reduction potential and consolidated into 14 top level indicators that are shown in the diagram below:

Insurance
PM & Development
Turbine Technology
Integrated design & control
Balance of Plant
Transmission Capex
Installation
O&M
Increased design life
Growth & Scale
Competition
Collaboration
Cost of equity
Cost of Debt
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Select a project from the graph to view results
2016chartsegments
Insurance
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
2016 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

Construction phase insurance premiums have remained relatively stable, while operations phase premiums have reduced from 2015. Increasing number of players has meant more competition, but still perceived to be room for better risk pricing as more data becomes available.

PM & Development
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:ON TARGET
Outlook 2020:HIGH CONFIDENCE

Increased developer competition has led to increased interaction between developers and the supply chain during FEED in order to get the most accurate cost estimates for CfD auction bids. Increased competition has also accelerated the introduction of new technology (e.g. 66kV). There is still room for improved interaction with the supply chain to optimise project designs.

Turbine Technology
2014 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
2015 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
2016 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

The implementation of 6MW to 8MW turbines has been achieved ahead of target and the Turbine Ratings indicator remains the largest single contributor to cost reduction.  Most projects that reached FID in 2015/16 are planning to use 7MW or 8 MW turbines.

Integrated design & control
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:BEHIND TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

Integrated design, and advanced control methods based on nacalle lidar and wind farm wide strategies, remain opportunities for significant cost reduction.

Balance of Plant
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:ON TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

For jackets, the standardisation of design elements is key to cost reduction, requiring collaboration between designers, fabricators and installers. The commitment of 66kV array cables to projects reaching FID in 2016 was seen as a key milestone.

Transmission Capex
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:ON TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

Good progress on substation design (standardised and distributed approach) has been achieved. The use of compact HVDC systems in the UK is not anticipated before 2020.

Installation
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:ON TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

Purpose built installation vessels for monopiles and jackets have not been required for the current volume of foundations for 6-8MW class turbines. Without clarity of future pipeline, and plans for use of 8MW+ turbines and jackets, investment into specialised vessels is remains challenging.

O&M
2014 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:ON TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

Advanced systems for turbine condition monitoring are available but opportunities remain to make better use of data in condition based maintenance strategies. The cost/benefit balance between new access technologies (e.g. SOVs, SWATH CTV, walk to work) for different sites is still to be determined.

Increased design life
2014 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
2015 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
2016 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
Outlook 2020:HIGH CONFIDENCE

Based on this years evidence, the 25 year design life CRMF target for 2020 has already been achieved.

Growth & Scale
2014 Score:BEHIND TARGET
2015 Score:BEHIND TARGET
2016 Score:BEHIND TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

Whilst the forecast of 10GW installed by 2020 is in line with targets, the uncertainty over the Levy Control Framework (LCF) beyond 2020/21 has resulted in the overall assessment of Growth and Scale being behind target for the third year running.

Competition
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:ON TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

The drive for cost reduction has led to some consolidation in the market, though evidence suggested the current level of supply is sufficient for the current market volume. The sustainability of low prices with low certainty on future pipeline was a common theme during interviews with the supply chain.

Collaboration
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:ON TARGET
Outlook 2020:MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

Increased competition, driven by the CfD scheme, has reduced horizontal collaboration between developers. Vertical collaboration has improved, driven by the need for accurate CfD bids, however this was not universal and evidence noted further room for improvement in the methods of engagement in order to maximise the cost reduction potential.

Cost of equity
2014 Score:ON TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
Outlook 2020:HIGH CONFIDENCE

Risk premiums continue to fall or remain the same as investors become more comfortable with offshore wind. Sufficient capital is available, albeit not always as early in the financing cycle as desirable. Target returns reducing as a result of competition for CfDs.

Cost of Debt
2014 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
2015 Score:ON TARGET
2016 Score:AHEAD OF TARGET
Outlook 2020:HIGH CONFIDENCE

Margins, as well as all-in costs, are tracking below the target levels, though it is proving challenging to fulfil the increasingly large funding tranches in the timeframes required. Gearing has increased to ~70% where project finance is used, though some owners still prefer balance sheet funding.

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2014 Score:
2015 Score:
2016 Score:
Outlook 2020:
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The offshore wind industry has grown rapidly in the last five years. Technology has evolved, supply chains have been built through expansion, cross-sector entrants and developer in-house capability.

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Findings

Improvements in technology ranging from larger rated turbines to innovations in installation have had the largest impact on LCOE.

The deployment of 8MW turbines at Burbo Bank Extension is a major achievement and most projects that reached FID in 2015/16 are planning to use 7MW or 8 MW turbines. There is also scope to evolve these platforms to gain further benefits through optimised rotor diameter and enhance control systems.

The potential for optimised electrical infrastructure is being realised with several projects that have reached FID, contracted to use 66kV array cables.

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Conclusions

The ambitious 2020 Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) target of £100/MWh for offshore wind has been achieved four years ahead of forecast. Further opportunities for cost reduction are being developed and LCOE for offshore wind will continue to fall over the next decade.

UK projects that made a Final Investment Decision (FID) in 2015/16 achieved an average Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of £97/MWh; a 32% reduction from £142/MWh for projects reaching FID in 2010/11.