Fraunhofer ISE Study on Development of Solar and Wind Power Generation Costs Until 2030

A study by Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE concerning generation costs for wind and solar power in the third quarter of 2010 is now available on the internet in German. The study forecasts cost developments until 2030 by modeling market growth and cost learning curves.

The study examines the 3rd quarter 2010 costs for PV installations (small installations up to 10 kWp, large installations up to 100 kWp and freestanding installations bigger than 100 kWp), large solar thermal power plants (50 to 200 MWp parabolic trough plants and solar power tower plants with a capacity of 10 to 30 MWp), onshore wind power plants with 1 to 2 MW and offshore wind power plants with 3 to 5 MW).  The findings can be summarized as follows:

  1. In locations with a global radiation of 1,100 kWh/m²/year, generation costs of small PV installations vary from 0.30 EUR/kWh to 0.34 EUR/kWh. Depending on the design and size of the plant as well as the location and the radiation, generation costs go as low as 0.18 EUR/kWh for freestanding installations with a global radiation of 2,000 kWh/m²/year.
  2. Generation costs for large PV installations and solar thermal plants in locations with a global irradiation of 2000 kWh/m²/year are roughly the same (large PV: 0.18 EUR/kWh; CSP: 0.19 EUR/kWh).
  3. With generation costs of 0.18 EUR/kWh for large PV installations, grid parity already exists in regions with a high radiation and high retail electricity prices (e.g. Southern Italy).
  4. Onshore wind power plants in windy areas are already competitive with conventional power plants, as generation costs of 0.06 to 0.08 EUR/kWh are similar to costs for hard coal, lignite and nuclear power plants.
  5. Due to higher maintenance costs and high installations costs in maritime locations, offshore wind generation costs are 0.10 to 0.14 EUR/kWh. Costs are therefore higher than for onshore wind power plants, despite higher load hours (3,600 h per year).

The study uses three reference scenarios to model market and cost developments until 2030. It arrives at the following conclusions:

  1. Assuming constant cost learning curves and progress ratios for PV installations and PV modules (15-20% respectively 80%-85%), generation costs for future installations decrease disproportionately compared with solar thermal and wind power plants.
  2. Until 2030 offshore wind power plants, small PV systems in Germany, and solar thermal power plants in Southern Spain can achieve generation costs similar to those of conventional fossil power plants (given an increase of generation costs for fossil power plants to 0.10 EUR/kWh according to a 2009 scenario by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety).
  3. Starting 2020 large PV power plants in areas with a high radiation like Southern Italy or Spain can produce electricity at generation costs of approximately 0.072 EUR/kWh, provided  costs decrease at the same rate as in the past.

Source: Fraunhofer ISE

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