Keywords: pricing, wind electricity, EU, economic issues
Pricing mechanisms for offshore wind electricity in EU member states
The aim of the study was to evaluate the pricing mechanisms for offshore wind electricity in those EU Member States (MS) possessing an important offshore wind resource and, on this basis, to determine the economic scenario faced by potential investors in the sector. The economic and energy policy framework of each MS was reviewed to establish the main factors determining the final price accorded to electricity generated from offshore wind, including feed-in tariffs, green certificates, subsidies, tax incentives and taking into consideration other factors such as costs and obligations related to grid connection and transmission. On the basis of the information collected, an economic analysis was conducted to compare offshore wind electricity prices across the EU, for a 20-year project duration, based on a year 2001 "snapshot" for a typical "first generation" offshore wind project. The policy review showed a variety of economic frameworks in existence across the EU, with some countries choosing fixed tariff schemes as the primary instrument and others using market-based systems such as green certificates. However, it was clear that several MS are moving away from the system based solely on fixed tariffs to incorporate more market-based schemes. The economic analysis showed that, on the basis of fixed tariffs and assuming uniform investment costs across EU waters, conditions are most favourable in Belgium (proposed legislation) and Germany. It is thought that, in future, market-oriented schemes and predictability tools will play an increasingly important role in determining the economic conditions faced by offshore wind electricity producers. It should be noted that the analyses presented in this paper are based on the economic and legislatory situations in existence at the time of writing, that is, December, 2001.