Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cost of solar power (25)

Today I’m going to analyse the GERO Solarpark in Saxony-Anhalt, near the city of Halle, approximately 200 km south-west of Berlin.

This installation is famous for the speed at which it was constructed.  From the Press Release:

“GERO-Solarpark lieferte schon nach sieben Wochen Bauzeit ersten Strom

Im Beisein von Sachsen-Anhalts Ministerpräsident Dr. Reiner Haseloff wurde heute in Amsdorf bei Halle das 28-Megawatt-Solarkraftwerk der GERO Solarpark GmbH feierlich eingeweiht.  Das Unternehmen ist ein Joint-Venture der GETEC green energy AG und des ROMONTA Unternehmensverbundes.  Obwohl diese 50-Millionen-Euro-Investition von den Plänen der Bundesregierung für vorgezogene Kürzungen der Solarförderung überschattet wurde, haben die beteiligten Firmen das Projekt ohne Verzögerung umgesetzt.  Deshalb konnte das moderne Kraftwerk bereits sieben Wochen nach Spatenstrich den ersten Sonnenstrom liefern.”

In English:

“GERO Solarpark delivers electricity after only seven weeks of construction

In the presence of the State President Dr Reiner Haseloff, the 28 MW solar power station GERO Solarpark GmbH was ceremonially inaugurated [on 10 May 2012].  The undertaking is a joint venture between GETEC green energy AG and the ROMONTA group.  Although this 50 million Euro investment was overshadowed by announcements of the Federal government’s early curtailment of solar subsidies, the participating firms carried out the project without any delays.  As a result, the modern power station was able to deliver the first solar electricity only seven weeks after start of construction.”

The press report goes on to point out that the plant will lead to the abatement of around 15,000 t CO2 per year. 

So I know the cost of the project (EUR 50 million), the peak power output (28 MW), and I could make an estimate of the annual output in MWhr in two ways – by the Capacity Factor or by the CO2 abated.

In response to my e-mail query, the manufacturer of the PV panels (Q-Cells) kindly provided the following additional precise information.

Peak DC output: 28.311 MW
Peak AC output: 25.120 MW
Ground area: 54.7 Ha
PV panel area: 203,807 m^2
Forecast annual output: 27,462 MWhr (averaged over 20 years, taking performance degradation into account)
Latitude: 51.453°N
Elevation: between 83 and 103 m above sea level

The multi-crystalline PV panels have nominal efficiency 13.8-15% and are fixed in this installation.

So, here is a case where the peak power output quoted in the press release is the DC output from the panels.  The actual AC output to the grid is around 11% less.  According to a post I made last year, the practice of giving DC output is common in Europe, although in the USA it is usual for the headline output figure to be the AC power to the grid.

The Capacity Factor for the GERO Solarpark is given by 27462/(25.120×365×24) = 0.125.  This is slightly better than the figure I calculated for the Lieberose installation, around 100 km south-east of Berlin.

The CO2 emissions intensity for the electricity grid in Saxony-Anhalt is given by 15000/27462 = 0.546 t CO2 per MWhr.

I now evaluate the LCOE using my customary assumptions

          there is no inflation,
          taxation implications are neglected,
          projects are funded entirely by debt,
          all projects have the same interest rate (8%) and payback period (25 years), which means that the required rate of capital return is 9.4%,
          all projects have the same annual maintenance and operating costs (2% of the total project cost), and
          government subsidies are neglected.

For further commentary on my LCOE methodology, see posts on Real cost of coal-fired power, LEC – the accountant’s view, Cost of solar power (10) and (especially) Yet more on LEC.  Note that I am now using annual maintenance costs of 2% rather than 3% as in posts during 2011.

The results are:

Cost per peak Watt              EUR 1.99/Wp
LCOE                                     EUR 207/MWhr

The components of the LCOE are:

Capital           {0.094 × EUR 50 × 10^6}/{27462 MWhr} = EUR 171/MWhr
O&M              {0.020 × EUR 50 × 10^6}/{27462 MWhr} = EUR 36/MWhr

By way of comparison, LCOE figures (in appropriate currency per MWhr) for all projects I’ve investigated are given below.  The number in brackets is the reference to the blog post, all of which appear in my index of posts with the title “Cost of solar power ([number])”:

(2)        AUD 183 (Nyngan, Australia, PV)
(3)        EUR 503 (Olmedilla, Spain, PV, 2008)
(3)        EUR 188 (Andasol I, Spain, trough, 2009)
(4)        AUD 236 (Greenough, Australia, PV)
(5)        AUD 397 (Solar Oasis, Australia, dish, 2014?)
(6)        USD 163 (Lazio, Italy, PV)
(7)        AUD 271 (Kogan Creek, Australia, CLFR pre-heat, 2012?)
(8)        USD 228 (New Mexico, CdTe thin film PV, 2011)
(9)        EUR 200 (Ibersol, Spain, trough, 2011)
(10)      USD 231 (Ivanpah, California, tower, 2013?)
(11)      CAD 409 (Stardale, Canada, PV, 2012)
(12)      USD 290 (Blythe, California, trough, 2012?)
(13)      AUD 285 (Solar Dawn, Australia, CLFR, 2013?)
(14)      AUD 263 (Moree Solar Farm, Australia, single-axis PV, 2013?)
(15)      EUR 350 (Lieberose, Germany, thin-film PV, 2009)
(16)      EUR 300 (Gemasolar, Spain, tower, 2011)
(17)      EUR 228 (Meuro, Germany, crystalline PV, 2012)
(18)      USD 204 (Crescent Dunes, USA, tower, 2013)
(19)      AUD 316 (University of Queensland, fixed PV, 2011)
(20)      EUR 241 (Ait Baha, Morocco, 1-axis solar thermal, 2012)
(21)      EUR 227 (Shivajinagar Sakri, India, PV, 2012)
(22)      JPY 36,076 (Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan, PV, start July 2012)
(23)      AUD 249 (NEXTDC, Port Melbourne, PV, Q2 2012)
(24)      USD 319 (Maryland Solar Farm, thin-film PV, Q4 2012)
(25)      EUR 207 (GERO Solarpark, multi-crystalline PV, May 2012)

[Note: all estimates made using 2% annual maintenance cost.]

The GERO Solarpark LCOE (EUR 207/MWhr) can be compared with Lieberose (EUR 350/MWhr in 2009) and Meuro (EUR 228/MWhr, also in 2012).  The cost of PV power is falling quickly.

Fossil fuel power generators might feel a bit of a shiver if they contemplate what the cost structures will be 10-15 years hence, particularly if worldwide legislation to control CO2 emissions gets some teeth.

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