August 9, 2018 Read More →

Latest U.S. Energy Information Agency data: solar and wind costs trend down

Agri-Pulse:

The cost of building some renewable energy generators is down, according to a data analysis released this week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Among newly constructed utility-scale electric generators in 2016, annual capacity-weighted average construction costs for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and onshore wind turbines fell.

New construction for wind and solar power were among the year’s most popular generation additions, with natural gas rounding out the top three. These three technologies accounted for approximately 93 percent of added capacity. Total electric generating capacity increased 50 percent over 2015.

Solar PV construction has steadily declined since 2013 when costs were $3,705 per kilowatt (kW) for construction. In 2016, the construction cost was $2,436 per kW as 500 PV generating units added 8 gigawatts (GW) to the energy mix. The EIA could not predict how 2018 tariffs on imported panels might affect future solar PV costs.

Wind capacity additions were the most popular in 2016. Utilities added 84 wind turbine projects with a total of 8.8 GW. Construction costs were down slightly from 2015, at $1,630 per kW. The data show capacity-weighted costs were lower for larger wind plants due to shared infrastructure costs.

Unlike PV solar and wind generation, construction costs for natural gas generators increased slightly in 2016. In 2016, 100 natural gas-fired generators, totaling 9.8 GW, were added to the electric grid.

More: Construction costs decline for wind, solar

Kallanish Energy:

Nearly 500 PV generating units totaling 8,000 megawatts (MW) were added to the electric grid in 2016, making it the second-most common technology installed in 2016, after wind turbines.

Utilities added 84 wind turbine projects, totaling 8,800 MW, to the electric grid in 2016. The construction costs for onshore wind generators in 2016 reached $1,630/kW, a slight decrease from 2015.

Capacity-weighted costs tend to be lower for larger wind plants. In the past three years, most new wind capacity has been larger plants — 89% of 2016 wind turbine additions were to sites with more than 100 MW. As the capacity added at a site increases, the capacity-weighted construction cost decreases because the siting and infrastructure costs are shared by more turbines and capacity.

Wind class — the wind speeds for which a wind turbine is optimized — can also affect wind generator costs; wind turbines designed for high- and medium-speed winds (classes 1 and 2) averaged about $100/kW more than turbines designed for low wind (class 3).

In 2016, 100 natural gas-fired generators, totaling 9,800 MW, were added to the electric grid. Costs averaged $895/kW, an increase from $812/kW in 2015. Of the 9,00 MW added, 3,600 MW were combustion turbines.

More: Average U.S. construction costs for solar, wind fell in 2016

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