Actor Peter Capaldi has helped to launch a new campaign backing offshore wind as the future of UK energy, in the wake of tumbling prices for the technology.
The star of The Thick Of It and Doctor Who said offshore wind “may just save the planet” as he helped unveil the campaign at Westminster Tube station in central London, which has been taken over with posters advertising the fall in prices.
The campaign by a coalition of environmental groups and companies is highlighting that the cost of offshore wind power has fallen by half since 2015, with the latest schemes securing guaranteed prices of as low as £57.50 for the electricity they generate.
This price makes the technology cheaper than nuclear, and even gas, and should make it the “natural choice” to play a leading role in the energy mix, backers say.
Technological developments such as bigger turbines and the growth in the UK supply chain have helped contribute to the falling prices.
The latest eight megawatt (MW) turbines stand almost 200 metres (650ft) high, taller than London’s Gherkin, and produce enough electricity to power a home for 29 hours with a single rotation of their blades, with even bigger units in the pipeline.
Capaldi said: “Great Britain is the world leader in a technology which can generate huge amounts of energy without using any fuel.
“It is safe, secure, zero-carbon and economical.
“In fact it’s halved in price in just two years. That’s 50% off.
“It’s a great deal and it may just save the planet”.
“The future of energy in the UK is offshore wind power,” he said.
Actress Emma Thompson, who visited an offshore wind farm to help launch the campaign, said: “It’s the most fantastic deal for the UK and it’s creating thousands of jobs in regions where unemployment has been, of late, very high.
“It’s creating jobs, it’s regenerating coastal areas, and it’s providing clean, beautiful green energy for us, our children and our grandchildren.”
The campaign is launched by groups including Greenpeace, WWF and the Marine Conservation Society, as well as companies Dong Energy, General Electric, Scottish OPower Renewables, Siemens Gamesa, SSE and Vattenfall.
It comes as a poll for Greenpeace by YouGov of 1,716 adults shows strong support for offshore wind, with 58% saying the Government should prioritise the technology in the future, compared with 19% for nuclear power and just 3% for gas.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “We’ve known for a long time that renewable energy was much more popular with the British public than any of the alternatives.
“Now that offshore wind is more than cost-competitive with every other energy option, we have a way forward for UK energy policy.”
Industry body RenewableUK’s executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Offshore wind has rewritten the rulebook, sending costs tumbling down, which is great news for consumers.
“As new offshore wind is now cheaper than new gas and nuclear, it’s the natural technology of choice to play a leading role in the UK’s modern clean energy mix.”