The Azimuth Project
Cost of energy

Contents

Idea

This page should become a source of information on energy costs.

2016 estimated costs for electrical energy

The table below comes from a January 12, 2010 report of the U.S. Department of Energy:

It lists the estimated cost of electricity by source for plants entering service in 2016. No subsidies are included in the calculations. In this table the rightmost column, Total System Levelized Cost gives the dollar cost per megawatt-hour that must be charged over time in order to pay for the total cost of generating energy by various methods:

The abbreviations used are

The table, according to the DOE, “provides the average national levelized costs for the generating technologies represented in the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) as configured for the Annual Energy Outlook 2010 (AEO2010) reference case. Levelized costs represent the present value of the total cost of building and operating a generating plant over its financial life, converted to equal annual payments and amortized over expected annual generation from an assumed duty cycle. The key factors contributing to levelized costs include the cost of constructing the plant, the time required to construct the plant, the non-fuel costs of operating the plant, the fuel costs, the cost of financing, and the utilization of the plant. The availability of various incentives including state or federal tax credits can also impact these costs. The values shown in the table do not incorporate any such incentives.”

More details are available on their website. Note that in this table the cheapest form of electrical power is a natural gas-fired plant ($79), followed by conventional coal ($100), followed by ‘advanced’ coal, whatever that means ($110), followed by biomass ($111), followed by geothermal ($116), followed by hydropower and ‘advanced’ nuclear ($116), coal with carbon capture and storage ($130), then wind ($150-$190), and then, far more expensive, solar thermal ($257) and photovoltaic solar power ($396). It would be interesting to go into the assumptions here and see how controversial all this is.

category: energy