UK Offshore Wind Ad 'Makes False Claims': GWPF
The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has lodged a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) concerning the current poster campaign for offshore wind at Westminster tube station, it said October 6.
The poster claims: “The price paid for electricity from offshore wind farms has fallen by 50% over the last five years.” GWPF disputes this based on its own analysis of the costs, and called the advert a "shameful piece of spin."
The campaign was launched by what the media has described as a “coalition of companies and civil society organisations” (including Dong Energy, GE, ScottishPower Renewables, Siemens Gamesa, SSE, Vattenfall, Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, and WWF).
But GWPF a think-tank set up to examine the claims and counter-claims surrounding climate change, says that in most cases, the prices paid for electricity from the UK’s offshore wind fleet have not fallen at all, and though there were small cuts to subsidies for new offshore projects built from 2015 on, this amounted to a reduction of around 5%.
GWPF said the campaign is "playing fast and loose with the facts. The ads are deliberately misleading members of parliament and the wider public into thinking that existing wind farms have been cutting their prices. In fact, the allegedly lower prices are only related to auction bids in so-called contracts for difference (CfD) which apply to tentative future wind projects that will not start generating until 2021/2022 and may in fact never be built – or never generate at these low prices."
According to a recent study published by GWPF, the capital costs of new offshore wind do not appear to be falling and may even be rising as they move into deeper waters. The CfD bids made are just investor speculation on future policy changes, said GWPF.
The study's authors, after analysing the bids, found that "developers see the CfD as a low-cost, no-penalty option for future development, and that, because the contract is easily broken once the windfarm has been built, they regard the price as a minimum not a ceiling." They called the press coverage of the results of the CfD auction for offshore wind "naive" and said it highlighted the "unsuspicious nature of both civil servants and journalists when considering apparently good news about renewable energy."
GWPF director Benny Peiser described the claims as "some of the most blatant distortions of the truth that I have seen in pro-wind advertising. The most that can be said is that the industry hopes it may be able to cut its costs and prices by 2022. I hope so too, but it is highly unlikely.” He said the wind industry and green campaigners owed MPs, peers and other decision-makers an apology.