Cost to construct energy facilities

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

I am trying to collect reference points for the cost to construct different types of facilities. Here are a few data points I’ve noticed lately and some data points I’ve mentioned before.

Remember to discount all the construction costs below by the 15% to 30% capacity rate. That means backup natural gas or coal plants are needed for the 70% or 85% of the minutes each day the facilities aren’t producing.

Offshore oil

I haven’t paid attention to offshore drilling so I’m not familiar with production levels or costs. Here is one data point I just saw:

11/25/15 – Wall Street Journal – Italy’s Eni Plans to Pump Arctic Oil, After Others Abandon the Field – An Italian oil company, Eni SpA, will continue its work 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Their Goliat platform will start pumping in 2015.

Goal is to produce 100,000 bopd. Cost is estimated at $6 billion. Field is expected to be productive for 15 years.

For context, you could probably drill 1,000 wells in North Dakota for $6B.


3/17/15 – Million Dollar Way – Here we go again – solar project in the dead of winter in a northern latitude state. – Standing Rock Reservation will construct 636kW solar project for $2M, of which $1M will be from federal government.

  • $3.14M/ mW

7/20/15 – Million Dollar Way – 13 MW Solar Farm for Camp Lejeune, North Carolina – MDW tracks down the info for cost on a 13 mW solar project to be built by Duke Energy on the Marine base in North Carolina.

  • $25M to $30M – estimated cost
  • 13mW – rated capacity (nameplate)
  • $1.9M to $2.3M – cost of solar per mW

Mr. Oksol reminds us the solar plant will require conventional backup power for the time it rains, or there are clouds, or it is dark outside. Cost of the backup capacity not included above.

9/8 – MPR News – MSP airport solar installation poised to grow

  • 1.3MW solar panels on top of parking lot at Minneapolis airport. Already have 3 MW of solar on parking facilities.
  • $12M cost.
  • $9.2M per MW. Yes, nine mil per megawatt!

Million Dollar Way pointed me to the report and had an interesting observation in his post: Huge Drop in North Dakota Rig count; US Imports More Saudi Oil in June:

Airports are another perfect spot to place solar panels to meet state mandates. The cost overruns and more expensive electricity can be buried in the total operating costs of the airport. These costs will be matched by increased landing fees, and, of course, these landing fees, will be apportioned across thousands of airline passengers. At a couple of dollars per person per flight, the increased cost in electricity will not be noticed. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Nine million price per megawatt does not include the cost of backup natural gas plants for the days each year the panels will be covered by snow.


7/8 – Bismarck Tribune – County okays windfarm near Tioga on a split vote

  • 75 turbines. 150 mW theoretical capacity.
  • Expected cost $150M.
  • $1M per megawatt of theoretical maximum production for wind.

Here are repeated comments from earlier posts in order to accumulate reference points on construction costs:


5/29 – Star Tribune – Regulators give green light to largest Minnesota solar energy project – 100 megawatt project to be spread across 21 locations in the state. The Aurora Solar Project is owned by Geronimo Energy.

  • Project cost $250 million.
  • 100 MW – theoretical capacity
  • $2.5M – cost per megawatt of nameplate capacity


4/6/15 – Denver Business Journal  NextEra Energy to build $640M Colorado wind farms 2  wind farms in Colorado.

Carousel Wind Power Project –

  • $240M for 150 MW
  • $1.6M per megawatt.

Golden West Wind Energy Project

  • $400M for 250 MW
  • $1.6M per megawatt.

Offshore wind

Previously posted this on 7/4/15: The Wall Street Journal First Offshore Wind Farm in U.S. Powers Ahead – 5 turbines each having the theoretical capacity of generating 6 mW. Article says the project will cost $338M.

  • $338M – total cost
  • 5 – number of slice-and-dicers
  • $67.6M – cost per turbine
  • 6 mW – theoretical capacity
  • $11.3M – cost per megawatt to build turbines

In addition, utility will have to build a 20 mile long cable line under the ocean to connect the island using the towers to the mainland. That new undersea cable will cost $107 million. Since that is directly related to using the new turbines that increases the cost of the electricity. Here’s the cost for construction:

  • $107 M – cost of undersea cable
  • 30 mW – theoretical capacity
  • $3.6 M – cost of cable to transfer in or out each mW of theoretical capacity

That puts total construction cost at a rather high amount:

  • $11.3 M – cost to build turbines
  • $3.6 M – cost of undersea cable
  • $14.9 M – construction cost per megawatt of theoretical capacity

Recap of above data points


  • $3.14M/ mW
  • $1.9M to $2.3M – cost of solar per mW
  • $9.2M per mW
  • $2.5M – cost per megawatt


  • $1M per megawatt
  • $1.6M per megawatt.
  • $1.6M per megawatt.

Offshore wind

  • $11.3M – cost per megawatt for turbines without required cable to shore
  • $14.9 M – per megawatt including cable to shore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *