Useful data points

Useful data points

December 12, 2019 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

US installed wind capacity stood at 100,125 megawatts at the end of the third quarter 2019, according to the American Wind Energy Association. AWEA reported another 21,651 megawatts of wind farms under construction and 23,844 megawatts in “advanced development,” including 5,796 megawatts of offshore wind farms.

Wind and solar electricity are now cheaper — in terms of levelized cost of energy — than electricity from fossil and nuclear fuels, according to a report by Lazard in November. Lazard reported LCOE ranges for electricity from different kinds of projects: $11 to $45 a megawatt hour for subsidized wind farms and $28 to $54 a megawatt hour without subsidies, $31 to $40 for subsidized utility-scale solar projects using crystalline silicon panels and $32 to $42 for such projects using thin film, compared to $44 to $68 for gas-fired power plants, $66 to $152 for coal and $118 to $192 for nuclear.

Lazard puts the unsubsidized cost of a 50-megawatt battery with 200 megawatt hours of storage capacity paired with a solar project at $102 to $139 a megawatt hour.

The Rocky Mountain Institute said in a report that it expects the cost of the battery to fall to $87 a megawatt hour by 2025.

NextEra said in its third-quarter earnings call that more than half of its solar projects in 2019 are being paired with storage.

SunPower reported that more than 20% of its residential solar installations in the third quarter this year included batteries. Sunrun had a 30% rate in the third quarter in California. However, the rate in the San Francisco Bay area in October spiked to 60% after Pacific Gas & Electric started blackouts during periods of high winds and dry conditions to reduce the risk of wildfires.

The global average installed cost in the United States is currently $1 a watt for solar and onshore wind and $2 a watt for offshore wind, according to Wood Mackenzie.

Replacing an incandescent light bulb with an LED bulb reduces electricity consumption by 80%, according to Lucas Davis, a Berkeley economist.