Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cost of solar power (26)

Giles Parkinson, the redoubtable chief correspondent for RenewEconomy, has a story today about a PV installation on the roof of the Kamberra Winery in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

This facility, which will be opened this week, is the product of a Joint Venture between SREC (Sustainable Renewable Energy Company, Melbourne-based) and the Elvin Group (a “green-tinged” Canberra-based concrete company).  I’ve never previously heard of concrete companies being green-tinged, but I welcome the concept.

According to the SREC web site:

“SREC Elvin has installed what is currently the largest solar PV installation in the ACT: a 146kW rooftop installation at the Kamberra Winery. The solar power station consists of 770 SolarOne solar modules together with 11 Power One Aurora 3-phase inverters.”

Parkinson reports that the installation is “understood to have cost just under AUD 500,000” and will generate “approximately 220 MWhr of electricity per year”.  Let’s go with the AUD 500,000 cost and assume the annual output is AC to the grid.

The Capacity Factor for the Kamberra installation is given by 220/(24×365×0.146), or 0.172.  That seems about right for fixed PV panels, sloping to the north, in a reasonably sunny location.  (Canberra is at 35.5°S latitude, elevation 585 m, mean annual solar exposure 17.8 MJ/m^2.)

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              AUD 3.42/Wp
LCOE                                     AUD 259/MWhr

The components of the LCOE are:

Capital           {0.094 × AUD 500,000}/{220 MWhr} = AUD 214/MWhr
O&M              {0.020 × AUD 500,000}/{220 MWhr} = AUD 45/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, Germany, PV, May 2012)
(26)      AUD 259 (Kamberra Winery, Australia, PV, June 2012)

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

Note that the NEXTDC and the Kamberra installations, numbers 23 and 26 respectively in the list above, have similar estimates for the LCOE.  Both these figures are also similar to that for the GERO Solarpark at today’s exchange rate.

Parkinson reports on comments from the CEO of SREC, Glen Currie:

"the economics of solar PV are changing rapidly.  The Kamberra facility was built last year at a capital cost of around $3.50/watt, but Currie says the cost has come down since then to around $2.20/watt - courtesy of a dramatic fall in the cost of panels (from more than $2/W to 80c/W) and smaller falls in the price of inverters and frames."

Therefore at today's costs, the Kamberra facility would have LCOE of AUD 259x2.20/3.50 = AUD 163.  We'll see if those predictions are confirmed in installations over the coming year.

Finally a note to readers ...

I'd be very happy to receive data on installations so that I can add further analyses to this list.  All that is required is peak output (in AC MW to the grid), cost (in whatever currency) and annual output (MWhr electricity per year).  Where figures on CO2 avoided are available, I'll provide an estimate for the cost of CO2 abatement.

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