Average US construction costs for solar generation continued to fall in 2019 - EIA

A 180-MW solar farm in Texas built by Hanwha Energy's US unit 174 Power Global. Image by Hanwha Energy (www.hanwha.co.kr)

July 20 (Renewables Now) - The annual capacity-weighted average construction costs for solar photovoltaic systems in the United States continued to decrease in 2019, dropping by a little less than 3%, according to the US Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) latest data on newly constructed utility-scale electric generators.

The average costs for wind turbines remained relatively stable in 2019, increasing USD 9 per kW, or a little less than 1% from the 2018 average. Costs for natural gas-fired generators had the largest change from 2018 to 2019, increasing USD 241/kW, or almost 29%.

Together, these technologies accounted for over 98% of the total capacity added to the US electric grid in 2019. US investment in all forms of new electric-generating capacity in 2019 decreased by 4.9% compared with 2018.

Solar

Solar construction costs averaged USD 1,796/kW in 2019, a 2.8% decrease from 2018. The decrease was driven by falling costs for crystalline silicon axis-based tracking panels, which fell to USD 1,497/kW in 2019. Crystalline silicon axis-based tracking panels made up almost half of the solar capacity added in the United States in 2019, at 2.5 gigawatts (GW). Among solar technologies, crystalline silicon fixed-tilt panels had the highest average cost in 2019, at USD 2,242/kW.

average construction cost for solar photovoltaic systems

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Generator Construction Costs

Wind

Total US wind capacity additions were 39% greater in 2019 than in 2018, although the average construction cost for onshore wind turbines remained about the same. The average construction cost for onshore wind turbines was USD 1,391/kW in 2019, compared with USD 1,382/kW in 2018.

The average construction cost for wind farms with more than 200 megawatts of capacity, which accounted for the largest share of wind capacity additions in 2019, decreased by 1.3% to USD 1,252/kW.

average construction costs for wind farms

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Generator Construction Costs

Natural gas

Among wind, solar, and natural gas technologies, natural gas received the least US investment in 2019, accounting for 26% of total electric-generating capacity investment across all energy sources. Most natural gas electric-generating capacity installed in 2019 was in combined-cycle facilities. Average combined-cycle construction costs increased from USD 858/kW in 2018 to USD 948/kW in 2019, a 10% increase.

average construction costs for natural gas-fired generators

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Generator Construction Costs

Principal contributor: Alex Mey

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides a wide range of information and data products covering energy production, stocks, demand, imports, exports, and prices; and prepares analyses and special reports on topics of current interest.

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