Solar is now competitive with … natural gas –Crossborder Energy study

Colorado, California, North Carolina: when will Georgia catch up in solar power? What will it take to get the Georgia legislature to realize all Georgians will benefit economically from much more solar power than GA PSC in July required Georgia Power to buy? And why should we permit a methane gas pipeline to gash through Georgia to profit executives in Houston and Juno Beach, Florida when we could be deploying solar everywhere in Georgia for local jobs, profit, lower electric bills, and clean air and water?

Here’s the study that showed solar benefits outweigh costs in North Carolina, The Benefits and Costs of Solar Generation for Electric Ratepayers in North Carolina, by R. Thomas Beach and Patrick G. McGuire for Crossborder Energy, 18 October 2013.

Wholesale solar PPA prices provide perhaps the most dramatic evidence of the continued decline in solar PV costs. Solar PPA prices have fallen dramatically over the past several years, to the point that, in some regions of the U.S., solar is now competitive with other generation resources, including wind and natural gas. Xcel Energy in Colorado recently announced that it is proposing to add 170 MW of utility-scale solar to its system, with its CEO stating “[f]or the first time ever, we are adding cost competitive utility scale solar to the system.”33 The California electric utilities make public each year the average PPA prices for renewable contracts approved by the CPUC in the prior year. Figure 3 shows the trend in the prices for their solar PV PPAs; CPUC contract approval can occur up to a year or more after bids are received, so the figure is indicative of prices through roughly 2011.34 2012 solicitations for solar PPAs in California in the 3 MW to 20 MW size range through the Renewable Auction Mechanism (RAM) have yielded market-clearing prices in the 8 to 9 cents per kWh range.3

The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) conducts and publishes regular national surveys of the installed costs of solar PV; these surveys include PPA prices for utility-scale solar projects. LBNL recently released its most recent survey of wholesale, utility-scale solar PPA prices, including data to September 2013.36 LBNL samples the prices only for utility-scale solar PV projects that sell both electricity and RECs in the wholesale power market through a long-term PPA that includes the “bundled” sale of both power and RECs.37 Figure 4 illustrates the trend in utility-scale, wholesale solar PPA prices.38 Based on the 2012-2013 data, utility-scale solar PPAs now appear to be in the range of $55 to $75 per MWh. The data for PPAs from 2012 and 2013 are for projects that are not yet on-line, and thus remain subject to some uncertainty over contract performance. However, LBNL’s PPA data from earlier years is based on projects which in general are now on-line, which substantiates the trend of rapidly dropping PPA prices and provides confidence that most of the reported 2012-2013 PPA prices will result in successful projects.

How about some more successful solar projects in Georgia?


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  1. Pingback: Actually, green solar power is winning | On the LAKE front

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