A record amount of new offshore wind power has been announced in the UK – at record low prices.
The new projects will power more than seven million homes for as little as £39.65 per megawatt hour.
The government says the wind farms represent a breakthrough, typically generating electricity without subsidy.
Environmentalists are delighted – but they warn minsters are failing to tackle more difficult challenges such as driving and home heating.
They point out that electricity usage forms just 15% of household energy consumption – way behind petrol, diesel and gas.
Friday’s announcement offers a guaranteed price to firms willing to take the risk of installing costly offshore wind turbines in projects set to be delivered by 2025.
The £39.65 figure offered by the cheapest operator is way lower than previously expected.
By comparison, power from Hinkley Point C – the new nuclear power station in Somerset also due to open in 2025 – is expected to cost £92.50 per megawatt hour.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “Today’s news makes arguing for the massive public subsidies nuclear power requires a much harder task.”
The government anticipates the overall wholesale electricity price will range between £48.95 in 2023-24 to £52.36 per megawatt hour in 2026-27.
The cost of offshore wind has plummeted around 30% in the last two years.
‘Impossible is becoming possible’
It’s astonished observers like Emily Beament, environment correspondent for the Press Association.
She tweeted: “Two years ago I nearly fell off my chair at the low cost of new offshore wind power. I was more sanguine this time… then it happens again.”
Greenpeace campaigner Kaisa Kosonen tweeted: “Impossible is becoming possible in front of our very eyes.”
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK is leading the way in the fight against climate change, and it’s great news that millions more homes will be powered by clean energy at record low prices.
“Seizing the opportunities of clean energy not only helps to protect our planet, but will also back businesses and boost jobs.”
His critics point out that de-carbonising the electricity sector is accepted as the easy part of tackling climate change.
The government the has been repeatedly criticised by MPs for failing to curb emissions from transport and homes – and for not acknowledging that to curb climate change, many drivers need to leave their cars at home and walk, cycle or go by public transport.