U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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September 04, 2012
Q.

What is the levelized cost of the Ivanpah project? - John

SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership

The SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership has been tasked with helping accelerate adoption of photovoltaic (PV) solar at the local level by providing timely and actionable information to local governments.

A.

Thanks for contacting the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership via the US Department of Energy's 'Ask an Expert' portal with your question regarding the LCOE of the Ivanpah concentrating solar power (CSP) project in California.  The 'Ask an Expert' portal is primarily intended for a local government audience. The SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership has been tasked with helping accelerate adoption of  photovoltaic PV solar at the local level by providing timely and actionable information to local governments.

To address your question, first we should define levelized cost of energy (LCOE). LCOE analysis compares the combination of capital costs, operations and maintenance (O&M), performance, and fuel costs and can also include financing issues, discount issues, and future replacement, or degradation costs. LCOE analysis seeks to compare the costs of various energy technologies in an “apples to apples” way. However, given the wide number of variables used some LCOE analyses are more thorough than others. The National Renewable Energy Lab has a simplified LCOE analysis tool available.

In order to conduct a LCOE analysis of the Ivanpah CSP project we would need to find the relevant cost data, some of which may be proprietary information of the project developer. That said, analysis by industry insiders has estimated the LCOE of the project in the range of $0.12 to $0.17 per kilowatt hour.  See: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/can-solar-thermal-be-cheaper-than-pv/ See also: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/brightsource-eagerly-awaits-final-decision-from-the-california-energy-commi/

For more information on the Ivanpah solar project see: 

http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/0/8a69e55a233e0b7edfe14b9f77f5eb8d/folder/ivanpah_fact_sheet.10.12.pdfand http://ivanpahsolar.com/.

Thanks again, for contacting the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership via the Department of Energy's Solar Resource Center. 

 

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