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Study claims wind power more expensive than officially estimated

A new study into wind power claims that the technology is more expensive than first thought, because the economic lives of wind farms are shorter than the wind industry suggests.

According to the research from the Renewable Energy Foundation, wind farm performance plummets by as much as a third after ten years.

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The Renewable Energy Foundation is a charity that questions the cost of UK onshore wind subsidies and their effect on household electricity bills.

The study’s author Professor Gordon Hughes, a University of Edinburgh economist, who used data from British and Danish wind farms, pointed out that this means a wind turbine’s economic working life is closer to 10 or 15 years rather than the 20 to 25 years used in some projections, said the study’s author.

The finding is at least double that of many industry and government estimates. If accurate, it would cast doubt on the widespread view that the costs of onshore wind are gradually nearing those of conventional fossil fuel-powered generators in many countries.

However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change rejected Prof Hughes’ findings. “Our expectations of wind turbine lifetimes are based on rigorous analysis and evidence,” the department said. “Britain’s oldest commercial turbines at Delabole in Cornwall have only recently been replaced after 20 years of operation, and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds since that project started generating in 1991.”

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