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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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.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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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