Monday, May 11, 2015

Cost of solar power (52)

The Barcaldine Solar Farm sounds like a solar farm from central casting.

It’s located in the middle of the vast state of Queensland where the solar resource is outstanding.  The actual site is adjacent to an existing generation facility with a 38 MW gas turbine and a 15 MW steam turbine, with immediate connections to the grid available.  Lastly, the site is over 1,000 km from the next nearest generation facility, so it’s an end-of-grid installation with little competition from other generators.

The project is being developed by Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm Pty Ltd, which is jointly owned by Kingsway Europe SL and Elecnor Australia Pty Ltd.  Kingsway Europe is a company established to invest in renewable energy projects and other assets, securing funding from both its shareholders and the banking community.  Elecnor Australia Pty Ltd is a subsidiary of Elecnor SA, one of the world’s leading solar energy development companies.  Elecnor SA was established in 1958 and now operates in 33 countries with over 13,000 employees generating revenue in excess of over USD 3 billion each year.

For further details, see

So this project should be deliverable at the level of world’s best practice.

The timeline envisages detailed design in late 2015, final approvals and construction in 2016 and commissioning in early 2017.  At the moment, it’s planned to be 23.6 MW peak output, with annual output of 53,000 MWh.  The PV panels will be from a Tier 1 supplier (yet to be decided) and will have single-axis tracking.  The cost of the project is estimated to be between AUD 55 million and AUD 65 million.  Let me take the average, AUD 60 million.

The Capacity Factor for this installation is 53,000/(23.6 × 365 × 24) = 0.256.

We can now proceed to analyse the Levelised Cost of Electricity (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 Barcaldine Solar Farm are as follows:
Cost per peak Watt              AUD 2.54/Wp
LCOE                                     AUD 129/MWh

The components of the LCOE are:

Capital           {0.094 × AUD 60×106}/{53,000 MWhr} = AUD 106/MWhr
O&M              {0.020 × AUD 60×106}/{53,000 MWhr} = AUD 23/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)
(46)      AUD 141 (new Moree Solar Farm, PV, one-axis tracking, December 2015)
(47)      AUD 184 (Brookfarm, PV, December 2015)
(48)      USD 110 (Amanecer, PV, June 2014
(49)      USD 113 (DEWA, PV, April 2016)
(50)      USD 284 (Ashalim, solar thermal, 2017)
(51)      USD 256 (Xina Solar One, solar thermal, 2017)
(52)      AUD 129 (Barcaldine, PV, one-axis, March 2017)


You can compare results with my LCOE graphic.

On this analysis, the LCOE for the Barcaldine Solar Farm is indeed excellent, broadly comparable to the best two projects I’ve analysed, namely Amanecer and DEWA.  The Capacity Factor of the Barcaldine project is 53,000 / (365 × 24 × 23.6) = 0.256, roughly what I’d expect from one-axis tracking at a good location.

In all, this project should be world-class.  I hope the developers are able to deliver according to their plans, especially in the presence of hostile government policy in Australia at the moment.

Note added 11 December 2015

This project has now reached financial closure and is ready for construction.  I’ve updated the LCOE details in this post.

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