Donna Heimiller, Jonathan Ho, Christopher Moné, and Maureen Hand /
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Mark Bolinger and Joseph Rand / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
This report uses representative utility-scale projects to estimate the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for land-based and offshore wind plants in the United States. Data and results detailed here are derived from 2015 commissioned plants. More specifically, analysis detailed here relies on recent market data and state-of-the-art modeling capabilities to maintain an up-to-date understanding of wind energy cost trends and drivers. It is intended to provide insight into current component-level costs as well as a basis for understanding variability in LCOE across the industry. This publication reflects the fifth installment of this annual report. The primary elements of this 2015 report include:
- Estimated LCOE for a representative, land-based wind project installed in a moderate wind resource located within the interior (hereafter referred to as “Interior”) region of the United States in 2015
- Estimated LCOE for representative offshore, fixed-bottom, and floating projects using National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) models and a database informed by projects installed in Europe for a representative site on the U.S. North Atlantic Coast in 2015
- Sensitivity analyses showing the range of effects that basic LCOE variables could have on the cost of wind energy for land-based and offshore wind power plants and NREL’s historical, calculated LCOE estimates for land-based and offshore wind plants
- Estimated range of LCOE for land-based wind projects across the contiguous United States that were divided into five regions and based on geographically specific wind resource conditions paired with approximate wind turbine size characteristics
- An update on prior analysis (Bolinger and Wiser 2011) of the drivers of wind turbine prices in the United States to estimate and understand the relative contributions of various endogenous and exogenous drivers to the decline in wind turbine prices observed since 2010.
Key inputs and results
Throughout this report, the representative land-based and offshore project types are referred to as “reference projects.” Tables summarize the basic LCOE inputs for the reference land-based, fixed-bottom, and floating offshore wind projects, with some additional detail about project capital expenditures (CapEx) and the respective turbine capacity factor associated with the net annual energy production estimate. These are the assumptions used to calculate the LCOE for the 2015 reference projects using an installed average nameplate megawatt (MW) capacity. Unless specifically stated, all data and analysis used in the report are in 2015-nominal dollars, taking into account changes caused by inflation, relative to previous reports.
Installed project data were gathered from the American Wind Energy Association project database (2016), and land-based wind project cost estimates were derived primarily from installed project data reported by Wiser and Bolinger (2016).
These data were supplemented with outputs from NREL’s cost models for wind turbine and balance-of-system components. Because of the absence of installed or operating offshore wind projects in the country, the offshore reference project data were estimated from installed 2015 global offshore projects, data collected from U.S.-proposed projects, and market data from the existing international offshore wind industry.
The assumed wind resource regime and geospatial plant characteristics (e.g., water depth and distance from shore) for the offshore reference plant are comparable to that of sites on the U.S. North Atlantic Coast. The three major component cost categories and many subcategories are represented in Figures ES1, ES2, and ES3, including wind turbine (e.g., wind turbine components), balance of system (e.g., development, electrical infrastructure, assembly, and installation), and financial costs (e.g., insurance and construction financing). The majority of the land-based project CapEx (71%) are in the turbine itself, whereas the turbine makes up only 32% of the fixed-bottom offshore and 22% of the floating offshore reference project CapEx.
For the full 113-page report: https://goo.gl/H4Jo4B
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