November 20, 2018 Read More →

BNEF: Unsubsidized wind, solar are now the cheapest bulk generation sources

Windpower Engineering & Development:

Falling technology costs means unsubsidized solar and/or onshore wind are now the cheapest source of new bulk power in all major economies except Japan, according to BloombergNEF‘s (BNEF) new 2H 2018 LCOE report. The report assesses the cost competitiveness of different power generating and energy storage technologies globally (excluding subsidies).

Every half year, BNEF runs its Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) analysis, a worldwide assessment of the cost competitiveness of different power generating and energy storage technologies – excluding subsidies.

These are the key, high-level results:

Solar and/or wind are now the cheapest new source of generation in all major economies, except Japan. This includes China and India, where not long ago coal was king. In India, best-in-class solar and wind plants are now half the cost of new coal plants.

The benchmark global levelized cost for onshore wind sits at $52/MWh, down 6% from our 1H 2018 analysis. This is on the back of cheaper turbines and a stronger U.S. dollar. Onshore wind is now as cheap as $27/MWh in India and Texas, without subsidy.

In most locations in the U.S. today, wind outcompetes combined-cycle gas plants (CCGT) supplied by cheap shale gas as a source of new bulk generation. If the gas price rises above $3/MMBtu, our analysis suggests that new and existing CCGT are going to run the risk of becoming rapidly undercut by new solar and wind. This means fewer run-hours and a stronger case for flexible technologies such as gas peaker plants and batteries that do well at lower utilization (capacity factor).

Short-duration batteries are today the cheapest source of new fast-response and peaking capacity in all major economies except the U.S., where cheap gas gives peaker gas plants an edge. As electric vehicle manufacturing ramps-up, battery costs are set to drop another 66% by 2030, according to our analysis. This, in turn, means cheaper battery storage for the power sector, lowering the cost of peak power and flexible capacity to levels never reached before by conventional fossil-fuel peaking plants.

Batteries co-located with PV or wind are becoming more common. Our analysis suggests that new-build solar and wind paired with four-hour battery storage systems can already be cost competitive, without subsidy, as a source of dispatchable generation compared with new coal and new gas plants in Australia and India.

More: Onshore wind & solar lead as cheapest source of new bulk power, finds BNEF

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