Million Dollar Way pointed me to EIA data for 2013 on the costs for construction and amount of new capacity for wind, solar, natural gas, hydro and biomass. As expected, the non-reliables have extremely high construction costs.
The data can be found here
Since the graph is public information, I will post it below:
Source: Energy Information Administration
Here are the average construction costs for the year for a megawatt of capacity:
- $3.705M – solar photovoltaic
- $3.495M – biomass (let’s go back to burning trees to power our lives!)
- $1.895M – wind
- $2.294M – hydro
- $0.965M – natural gas
That puts solar PV at 3.8 times as expensive as natural gas, with wind only being 1.96 times as expensive.
Solar – 4x gas.
Wind – 2x gas.
Keep in mind that solar and wind only hit around 30% or 40% capacity. That means 60% or 70% of the time that 3.7M/mW or $1.9M/mW is sitting idle. Don’t forget to allocated that idle time to the cost per kW.
Also keep in mind both sources require backup from natural gas in case the wind doesn’t blow at a particular moment or it is rainy for the day. That means that every megawatt of solar or wind you plan to use during the sunny/windy hours requires having a megawatt gas generator on standby.