Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cost of solar power (35)

The British isles are not usually considered as a suitable location for major solar projects.  But that’s exactly what has transpired at Wymeswold, on the site of a former military airfield near Leicester, latitude approximately 52.5°N.  The 34 MW project was developed by Lark Energy and the landowner, Prestwold Estates.  The project was funded and is owned by Hazel Capital.

The site is approximately 60 Ha, final approvals for the plant were received in November 2012, and construction led by S.A.G. Solarstrom was completed within eight weeks.  The press release gives the cost of the project as GBP 35 million.

Clean Technica reports that the site receives an average of only 2.84 hours of direct sunshine each day.  Many thanks to Jonathon Selwyn, Managing Director of Lark Energy, who confirmed the average annual output is expected to be only 900 kWh per kW peak.  This is not a Tier 1 location by world standards.

The panels are fixed and according to Selwyn have 33 MW peak output (not 34 MW as stated in the press release) and 30 MW peak export capacity to the grid.  Therefore the expected annual output is 27,000 MWh.  That enables me to analyse the Levelised Cost of Electricity for the Wymeswold project using my standard 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 for the Wymeswold project are as follows:

Cost per peak Watt              GBP 1.13/Wp
LCOE                                     GBP 148/MWh

The components of the LCOE are:

Capital           {0.094 × GBP 35×10^6}/{27,000 MWhr} = GBP 122/MWhr
O&M              {0.020 × GBP 35×10^6}/{27,000 MWhr} = GBP 26/MWhr

By way of comparison, LCOE figures (in appropriate currency per MWh) 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)
(27)      EUR 105 (Calera y Chozas, PV, Q4 2012)
(28)      AUD 205 (Nyngan and Broken Hill, thin film PV, end 2014?)
(29)      AUD 342 (City of Sydney, multiple sites, PV, 2012)
(30)      AUD 281 (Uterne, PV, single-axis tracking, 2011)
(31)      JPY 31,448 (Oita, PV?, Japan, to open March 2014)
(32)      USD 342 (Shams, Abu Dhabi, trough, to open early 2013)
(34)      USD 272 (Daggett, California, designed 2010)
(35)      GBP 148 (Wymeswold, UK, PV, March 2013)


At the current exchange rate of 1 GBP = USD 1.51 = EUR 1.17, the LCOE for the Wymeswold project is USD 223 or EUR 173 per MWh.  This figure is better than most on the list above, but not as good as the existing Calera y Chozas plant (number 27) or the proposed Nyngan plant (number 28), both with superior solar resources to Wymeswold.   The Wymeswold LCOE is 16% less than that for the GERO Solarpark (number 25), which was commissioned a year ago at comparable latitude in Germany.


  1. Good information...

    It would be helpful if your table included prices in a single currency.

    That would allow the ability to easily compare across countries.

    And, perhaps, list by date. That would show changes over time.

  2. Thanks for the comment Bob.

    As it happens, I had previously prepared a spreadsheet with the features you suggested. I just haven't got around to making a blog post about it. You've encouraged me to do so!