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Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019

Die aktuellste Studie der IRENA zeigt auf, dass über die Hälfte des aus EE-Anlagen generierten Stroms, zu geringeren Kosten generiert werden kann, als bspw. Strom aus den neuesten Kohlekraftwerken. © IRENA 2020, IRENA (2020), Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019, International Renewable Energy Agency, Abu Dhabi.


RENEWABLE POWER GENERATION COSTS 2019 replicable and modular nature of solar PV project development — and a narrowing of country-level price differentials for solar PV modules (although there are exceptions, such as the United States and Japan), this means that the most competitive cost structures for solar PV are increasingly less affected by individual project characteristics than for other renewable power generation technologies. Variation remains, both within and between countries, but those with competitive markets can expect to see convergence of installed costs with best practice levels, as local supply chains become more competitive and developers gain more experience. The reduction in solar PV installed costs has been driven by cost reductions in PV modules. Between December 2009 and December 2019, module prices fell by between 87% and 92% for crystalline silicon modules, depending on the type. These module price reductions have been driven by a number of factors. First, by the continued improvement in module efficiency. This acts by reducing the surface area required for the same power output, driving down materials costs and some balance of system costs directly influenced by surface area. Second, by improvements in manufacturing that have reduced materials costs (e.g., diamond-wire sawing); third, by reduced labour costs through improved productivity and increased factory automation; fourth, by economies of scale in manufacturing, along with vertical integration of the manufacturing process from polysilicon production to module manufacture; and finally, by increased competition among suppliers. Between December 2018 and December 2019, the decrease in installed costs for crystalline silicon module-based projects was driven by module price declines of between 4% (for “low-cost” modules) and 12% (for “high-efficiency” modules). In December 2019, benchmark prices for modules in Europe ranged from USD 211/kW for low-cost manufacturers' products, to USD 267/kW for mainstream manufacturers’ products (pvXchange, 2020). At the same time, benchmark prices for high-efficiency modules stood at USD 367/kW. The year 2019 also saw the emergence of the widespread deployment of bifacial modules, which boost output by allowing reflected light onto the back of a panel to be captured. Currently, these retain a cost premium in Europe, averaging around USD 445/kW in December 2019, but the premium is often lower elsewhere. Balance-of-system (BoS) costs 12 have fallen slightly less rapidly than module costs. This is in part due to very different levels of domestic market maturity (as, for example, evidenced in the degree of project developers’ experience), as well as structural differences in local labour and manufacturing costs. Different support policy structures also end up influencing competitiveness. Having said that, there are now a number of examples where, with the right regulatory and policy settings, new markets have emerged that have been able to take advantage of international developer experience and local civil engineering expertise to rapidly scale local supply chains and achieve very competitive cost structures in 1-2 years. This ability to rapidly achieve competitive cost structures in a very short time frame, sets today’s solar PV market apart from that of five years ago. It is also behind the growing number of very competitive solar PV auction and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) results in new markets. The growth of these new markets for solar PV has also seen an increasing proportion of the market located in areas with excellent solar resources. This has led to the global weighted-average capacity factor increasing from 14% in 2010 to around 18% today. In addition to the shift to deployment in areas with better solar resources, there have been some improvements in the overall efficiency (e.g., in reducing inverter losses) of utility-scale solar PV systems. These have been dwarfed by the resource quality impact in the period of IRENA’s data, but the emergence of bifacial modules as the new electricity cost-minimising choice in some markets already for projects achieving financial close — and likely in a growing number over time — could provide another boost to capacity factors. 12 BoS costs for solar PV include cable and wiring, grid connection, racking and mounting, safety and security, electrical and mechanical installation, customer acquisition, financing costs, permitting, system design and profit margin. 28

LATEST COST TRENDS Between 2010 and 2019, the dramatic fall in solar PV module prices, along with continuing reductions in BoS costs (albeit at a slower rate) and the increase in capacity factors saw the global weighted-average LCOE of newly commissioned utility-scale solar PV fall 82%, to USD 0.068/kWh in 2019. As a result, around 40% of the capacity deployed that year had costs (excluding any financial support) that were lower than the cheapest, new, fossil fuel-fired capacity option. The country-level weighted-average cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV between 2010 and 2019 fell by 85% in India, 82% in China, Italy and the Republic of Korea; 81% in Spain, 78% in Australia, 73% in Germany and 66% in the United States. Emerging PV markets have also seen rapid declines, with Viet Nam, for example, seeing the cost of electricity from solar PV falling 55% since 2016. Onshore wind Continuous technological innovation remains a constant in the renewable power generation market, with onshore wind no exception. The global weighted-average LCOE of projects using this technology and commissioned in 2019 was USD 0.053/kWh — 9% lower than in 2018 and 39% lower than in 2010, when it was USD 0.086/kWh. Onshore wind now consistently outcompetes even the cheapest fossil fuel-fired source of new electricity, while costs continue to edge lower. The lower cost of electricity for onshore wind in 2019 was driven by continued reductions in total installed costs, as wind turbine prices continued their downward trend. Just as importantly, the LCOE reduction was also driven by improvements in the average capacity factor (Figure 1.5). After 40 years of commercial development, wind turbine technology continues to improve, with improvements in turbine design and manufacturing. In addition, more competitive global supply chains and an expanding suite of turbines designed to minimise LCOE in a range of operating conditions have contributed to reducing the cost of electricity from onshore wind, either by reducing capital costs (e.g., the material and labour costs of manufacturing) and/or by increasing energy yields for a given resource (e.g., higher hub-heights with larger swept blade areas). Figure 1.5 Global weighted average total installed costs, capacity factors and LCOE for onshore wind power, 2010-2019 3 500 Total installed cost Capacity factor Levelised cost of electricity 60% 0.15 3 000 95 th percentile 50% 2019 USD/kW 2 500 2 000 1 949 1 972 1 500 1 000 1 939 1 781 1 828 1 628 1 642 1 549 1 635 1 473 5 th percentile Capacity factor 40% 30% 20% 0.10 35.6% 0.086 0.083 32.3% 0.082 34.0% 0.083 0.076 28.5% 28.8% 27.1% 29.1% 30.6% 0.064 27.7% 27.0% 0.069 0.066 2019 USD/kWh 0.058 0.05 0.053 500 10% 0 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 0% 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 0.00 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Source: IRENA Renewable Cost Database. 29

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