Utility-Scale Solar: The Path to High-Value, Cost-Competitive Projects
Research

Utility-Scale Solar: The Path to High-Value, Cost-Competitive Projects

  • Breakdown of solar construction costs
  • Project design decisions that impact the levelized cost of energy
  • Capacity factor impacts on price

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Utility-Scale PV Heats Up

Industry news around low cost utility-scale solar has touted prices below $40/MWh in multiple jurisdictions. While eye-catching, the reality is that utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) project economics vary widely and are dependent on a host of drivers. As utilities consider adding solar to their resource mix, understanding these drivers and their implications is necessary for securing high-value, cost-competitive projects. This report will enable utilities to: (1) understand solar cost drivers; (2) recognize the value of solar in their resource mix; and, (3) establish a framework to evaluate solar projects.

What’s in the Report?

Project size, location, financing, ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, and system design decisions all factor together to convert project costs into a levelized cost of energy (LCOE). This report provides context behind the key drivers, including:

  • Hard and soft costs and their associated contribution to project costs
  • Added solar productivity from single-axis trackers
  • Solar economies of scale
  • Implications of system orientation on production
  • LCOE potential by capacity factor
  • Impact of project financing on LCOE