US Utility-scale Solar PV to Cost $16.89/MWh by 2030, Expects NREL

Highlights :

  • US Department of Energy‘s NREL has published the 2021 Annual Technology Baseline report.
  • The ATB report provides electricity generation technology cost and performance data to inform the US electricity sector.

A new report published by research institute National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has found that the prices of utility-scale solar PV in the US could down as much as $16.89/MWh by 2030.

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US Department of Energy‘s NREL specializes in the research and development of renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy systems integration, and sustainable transportation. Its 2021 Annual Technology Baseline (ATB) report provides electricity generation technology cost and performance data to inform the US electricity sector.

The ATB report has highlighted how the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) in 2019 for utility-scale PV ranged from US$31.32/MWh for ‘class 1’ solar PV, effectively NREL’s most cost-effective class, to US$50.23/MWh for ‘class 10’.

LCOEs will fall to the range of $29.39/MWh and $47.14/MWh for class 1 and class 10 projects this year, with a central ‘class 5’ estimate of $35.98/MWh, before reducing further to the range of $16.89/MWh and $27.10/MWh by 2030, predicts the report.

Although costs will continue to fall out till 2050, the study shows a levelling off of cost reductions. Class 1 solar PV is expected to generate at $15.06/MWh in 2040 and $13.35/MWh by 2050. Utility-scale solar PV LCOE will continue to fall dramatically out to 2030 before tailing off, shows NREL’s analysis.

“Comparisons of possible future power systems depend on assumptions and scenarios,” said Laura Vimmerstedt, NREL energy analyst and ATB project lead. “The ATB provides critical cost and performance assumptions for energy analysis, including studies at national labs and beyond.”

In May this year, US-based global safety certification company UL announced signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NREL for developing and commercializing the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus (SolarAPP+) software. This software will automate the permitting process for residential solar systems, through which the local governments will be able to cut down on the time required to grant a permit from a national average of five business days to zero.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.