Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cost of solar power (45)

I was born, raised and educated in Western Australia and still retain a soft spot for the huge state despite having lived elsewhere for 41 years.  So it’s a pleasure to write a feel-good story about a new PV installation at the South Boulder Wastewater Treatment Plant, 600 km inland from the WA state capital Perth.

The mayor of the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Ron Yuryevich, says the installation
is the largest of the four solar PV installations undertaken by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the past two years and is another example of the City’s commitment to long term sustainability”.
Power from the 150 kW ground mounted installation will be used in the City’s waste water treatment plant.  100% of the waste water is re-used for watering of parks and sporting facilities, which is very useful since Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a semi-arid environment.  The system is estimated to provide electricity savings of $60,000 per year and also to provide CO2 abatement of 230 tonnes per year.

In technical terms, the system has 500 Suntech panels (each of 300 W), two 75 kW Fronius inverters and a Schletter racking system.  EcoGeneration reports that the cost of the system is $595,000 (including 10% goods and services tax).  The system was commissioned in August 2014.

As for the annual output of the system, the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder kindly informed me that their projections were 260-270 MWh/yr.  Let’s take 265 MWh/yr, which corresponds to a Capacity Factor of (265 × 1000) / (150 × 24 × 365) = 0.20, a useful benchmark figure for future reference.

We can now proceed to analyse the LCOE 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 Kalgoorlie-Boulder project are as follows:

Cost per peak Watt              AUD 4.0/Wp
LCOE                                     AUD 256/MWh

The components of the LCOE are:
Capital           {0.094 × AUD 595,000}/{265 MWhr} = AUD 211/MWhr
O&M              {0.020 × AUD 595,000}/{265 MWhr} = AUD 45/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)
(36)      USD 139 (South Georgia, PV, June 2014)
(37)      USD 169 (Antelope Valley, CdTe PV, end 2015)
(38)      AUD 137 (Mugga Lane, PV, mid 2014)
(39)      AUD 163 (Coree, fixed PV, Feb 2015)
(40)      AUD 298 (Ferngrove Winery, PV, July 2013)
(41)      USD 125 (Cerro Dominador, CST, mid 2017)
(42)      USD 190 (La Paz, PV, September 2013)
(43)      USD 152 (Austin Energy, PV, 2016)
(44)      AUD 304 (Weipa, PV, January 2015)
(45)      AUD 256 (Kalgoorlie-Boulder, PV, August 2014)


You can compare results with my LCOE graphic.

For international comparisons, the LCOE should really be adjusted for the effect of the Australian goods and services tax.  That would reduce the estimates by 9.09%, giving AUD 233/MWh.  The LCOE is slightly high compared to recent international installations, but that reflects the fact that Australia is a high-cost place, even in spite of recent falls in the Aussie dollar.  Also Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a remote location with significant transport costs for hardware.

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