Offshore wind competitiveness in mature markets without subsidy


Offshore wind energy development has been driven by government support schemes; however, recent cost reductions raise the prospect of offshore wind power becoming cheaper than conventional power generation. Many countries use auctions to provide financial support; however, differences in auction design make their results difficult to compare. Here, we harmonize the auction results from five countries based on their design features, showing that offshore wind power generation can be considered commercially competitive in mature markets. Between 2015 and 2019, the price paid for power from offshore wind farms across northern Europe fell by 11.9 ± 1.6% per year. The bids received in 2019 translate to an average price of €51 ± 3 MWh−1, and substantially different auction designs have received comparably low bids. The level of subsidy implied by the auction results depends on future power prices; however, projects in Germany and the Netherlands are already subsidy-free, and it appears likely that in 2019 the United Kingdom will have auctioned the world’s first negative-subsidy offshore wind farm.

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Fig. 1: Raw bids received by auctions for new offshore wind capacity in five European countries over the past eight years.
Fig. 2: Harmonized expected revenues for each offshore wind farm auctioned in Europe.
Fig. 3: Effective subsidy for each offshore wind farm auctioned in Europe.
Fig. 4: Effective subsidy given to offshore wind farms as a function of future real-term growth in wholesale power prices.

Data availability

The datasets used in this study are available in the ZENODO repository as Supplementary Data, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3840134 ( This includes the raw data for all results presented here and input data for Figs. 14. Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

The cashflow model produced for this study is available in the ZENODO repository as Supplementary Software 1, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3733604 ( The model is set up to recreate the results of this paper. Refer to the README in the instructions.


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M.J. and I.S. were funded by the EPSRC under EP/R045518/1. F.M. acknowledges financial support from BMBF under project reference FKZ 01LA1821A. I.R. thanks BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg for a postgraduate scholarship (GradV).

Author information




MJ., F.M., I.S. and I.R. conceived the study and developed the analysis. All authors contributed to data gathering and data analysis. All authors wrote and edited the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Malte Jansen.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1 and 2, Tables 1–5, Figs. 1–5 and refs. 1–68.

Supplementary Data 1

The datasets used in this study are available in the ZENODO repository as Supplementary Data, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3840134 (

Supplementary Software 1

The cashflow model produced for this study is available in the ZENODO repository as Supplementary Software 1, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3733604 (

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Source Data Fig. 1

Data points and in-situ plot for all data points shown in Fig. 1. The source data can be accessed here:

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Source Data Fig. 3

Raw data points for Fig. 3. The source data can be accessed here:

Source Data Fig. 4

Data points and plots for Fig. 4. Contains the entire set of results presented in this paper. The source data can be accessed here:

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Jansen, M., Staffell, I., Kitzing, L. et al. Offshore wind competitiveness in mature markets without subsidy. Nat Energy 5, 614–622 (2020).

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