FutureStructure

Cost of Building Power Plants, Wind and Solar Farms Drops

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the costs fell significantly between 2013 and 2015.

by Ryan Maye Handy, Houston Chronicle / July 7, 2017
Shutterstock

(TNS) — The cost of building natural gas-fired power plants, wind farms and large solar arrays has fallen significantly since 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

But the cost of building a new power plant — or utility-scale solar or wind farm — is one piece of the equation for power companies, which also consider the cost of fuel, financial incentives and state policies.

For instance, while the cost of fuel for natural gas plants is low and the cost of building those plants has dropped, low wholesale electricity prices and a surge of renewable energy in Texas have left companies hard-pressed to justify building, or even updating, power plants.

Costs for installing natural gas generators at new and existing natural gas plants fell the most, by 28 percent, to an average $696 per kilowatt by 2015, which was the latest year for available data.

The costs for installing wind turbines was higher in 2015, at $1,661 per kilowatt, a 12 percent decrease from 2013. Larger wind farms, with above 100 megawatts, averaged lower installation costs than smaller farms.

Utility-scale photovoltaic generators are by far the most expensive to install, at $2,921 per kilowatt in 2015. Even so, those costs fell by 21 percent in 2015.

©2017 the Houston Chronicle Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.