Utility-scale PV power plants - investment costs and electricity price

Published: December 1, 2011

By Denis Lenardič, PV resources, Jesenice, Slovenia

It is essential to understand the investment and operating costs of photovoltaic power plants in terms of economic parameter calculations such as levelized cost of electricity (LCoE). The dynamic behaviour of national and international markets requires a precise and detailed estimation of costs, and this knowledge is especially important to investors and policymakers. Only if the investment and operating costs of PV power plants are known can the price of electricity and the more detailed levelized cost of electricity be precisely calculated. High investment costs also require reliable investment policies and close cooperation between financial institutions (such as banks and investment funds) and power plant owners. Investment in large-scale PV power plants requires a detailed evaluation of solar radiation potential and grid availability, as well as a load analysis and a precise economic evaluation. When the investment cost based on the above-mentioned parameters is known, an estimation of the operating costs should be the next step. When all the costs of a PV power plant have been estimated, the price of electricity, or even a more detailed LCoE, can be calculated. This paper presents the trend of investment costs and some typical maintenance costs, and calculations of electricity price based on recent real data for large-scale PV power plants.

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