The Institute for Energy Research is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.

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Electricity Generation Costs for Existing Generating Technologies

A new study from the Institute for Energy Research finds that electricity from new wind and solar power is 2.5 to 5 times more expensive than electricity from existing coal and nuclear power. This innovative study relies on data from the Energy Information Administration and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to find the levelized cost of electricity from existing plants, not just the cost of electricity from new power plants as is typical with many studies.

A new study from the Institute for Energy Research finds that electricity from new wind and solar power is 2.5 to 5 times more expensive than electricity from existing coal and nuclear power. This innovative study relies on data from the Energy Information Administration and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to find the levelized cost of electricity from existing plants, not just the cost of electricity from new power plants as is typical with many studies. In addition, IER’s study estimates the costs imposed on the grid by the intermittent nature of wind and solar power. Factoring in these “imposed costs” provides a more realistic estimate of what electricity from new wind and solar power costs. In fact, solar power’s imposed costs actually increase as more capacity is added to the system. The following chart shows the stark contrast between the cost of electricity from existing and new sources:

 LCOE Existing vs. New

  As the chart indicates:

    • Electricity from new solar is nearly 5 times more expensive than from existing nuclear and over 3.5 times more expensive than from existing coal.
    • Electricity from new wind is over 3.5 times more expensive than from existing nuclear and over 2.5 times more expensive than from existing coal.

Click here to read the full study.This study was conducted by Tom Stacy, a former member of the ASME Energy Policy Committee, and George Taylor, PhD, the director of Palmetto Energy Research. The source of the calculations used in this study is a compilation of data reported by the generators themselves to FERC and EIA.

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