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Expert elicitation survey on future wind energy costs

Abstract

Wind energy supply has grown rapidly over the last decade. However, the long-term contribution of wind to future energy supply, and the degree to which policy support is necessary to motivate higher levels of deployment, depends—in part—on the future costs of both onshore and offshore wind. Here, we summarize the results of an expert elicitation survey of 163 of the world’s foremost wind experts, aimed at better understanding future costs and technology advancement possibilities. Results suggest significant opportunities for cost reductions, but also underlying uncertainties. Under the median scenario, experts anticipate 24–30% reductions by 2030 and 35–41% reductions by 2050 across the three wind applications studied. Costs could be even lower: experts predict a 10% chance that reductions will be more than 40% by 2030 and more than 50% by 2050. Insights gained through expert elicitation complement other tools for evaluating cost-reduction potential, and help inform policy and planning, R&D and industry strategy.

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Figure 1: Summary of expert elicitation findings.
Figure 2: Expert estimates of median-scenario LCOE.
Figure 3: Relative impact of drivers for median-scenario LCOE reduction in 2030.
Figure 4: Estimated change in LCOE over time across all three scenarios.
Figure 5: Historical and forecasted onshore wind LCOE and learning rates.
Figure 6: Estimated change in LCOE comparing expert survey results with other forecasts.

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Acknowledgements

This study was conducted under the auspices of the IEA Wind Implementing Agreement for Cooperation in the Research, Development, and Deployment of Wind Energy Systems (IEA Wind). It would not have been possible without the funding of the US Department of Energy (DOE) under Contract Nos DE-AC02-05CH11231 (LBNL) and DE-AC36-09GO28308 (NREL), and the support of the NSF-sponsored IGERT: Offshore Wind Energy Engineering, Environmental Science, and Policy (Grant number 1068864). While the individuals providing critical contributions to this work are too numerous to list here, we especially thank our IEA Wind collaborators: V. Berkhout, A. Duffy, B. Cleary, R. Lacal-Arántegui, L. Husabø, J. Lemming, S. Lüers, A. Mast, W. Musial, B. Prinsen, K. Skytte, G. Smart, B. Smith, I. Bakken Sperstad, P. Veers, A. Vitina and D. Weir.

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Contributions

All authors contributed to the formulation of the research, construction of the survey, and to editing and discussing the paper. R.W. led the overall effort, and wrote the paper. K.J. and J.S. helped lead the implementation and execution of the online survey, as well as the subsequent analysis of the results. E.B. provided insight into expert elicitation design, while M.H., E.L. and A.S. contributed wind expertise.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ryan Wiser.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary Notes 1–3, Supplementary Figures 1–16, Supplementary Tables 1–20, Supplementary References. (PDF 3477 kb)

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Wiser, R., Jenni, K., Seel, J. et al. Expert elicitation survey on future wind energy costs. Nat Energy 1, 16135 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.135

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