July 30 (Renewables Now) - Non-fuel power generation operations and maintenance (O&M) costs for plants in the US have jumped by 74% since 1998, with hydro, coal and steam experiencing the most significant increases.
This is according to a report by artificial intelligence (AI) software provider Uptake, which analysed 20 years of data by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on 2,500 power plants, accounting for roughly 40% of total US generation. It found that the output of investor-owned utility (IOU) assets fell to 1,500 TWh by 2017 from 2,300 TWh in 1998, while non-fuel O&M costs remained almost unchanged at USD 15.6 billion (EUR 13.4bn) last year, down from USD 16.5 billion 20 years earlier. The non-fuel O&M/MWh cost for IOUs arrived at a median of USD 10.80/MWh in 2017, up from USD 6.21/MWh in 1998.
Uptake said that O&M costs have decreased over the 20-year period only for the “other” category which combines renewables, simple-cycle natural gas plants, and other combustion. Costs there contracted by 14% from USD 15.78/MWh in 1998 to USD 13.64/MWh in 2017. This is due to a fall in maintenance costs to USD 6.03/MWh from USD 7.38 MWh, while operations costs actually inched up 5%.
The table shows details of O&M/MWh costs across different power generation categories.
“This data tells us we are facing an unsustainable situation. Without changes, the economic underpinnings of the grid will be jeopardized,” said Uptake’s global energy solutions head Sonny Garg. He added that power plant owners will have to seek options to cut O&M costs with the help of new asset performance management tools in order to improve their bottom lines.
(USD 1 = EUR 0.86)