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Renewable Energy Cost Database

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Background

Renewable energy deployment has been accelerating at paces that exceed even optimistic expectations and they continue to command a greater market share of the energy production sector every year. Despite their rapid growth, there are few publicly available compilations of the data on renewable energy costs. Collecting this data is a difficult task, as costs change constantly with developments in technology and much of the cost data is closely guarded by industry. However, accurate cost information and projections will be increasingly important as renewables become a larger part of the nation’s energy portfolio.

Description

The attached database is an attempt to fill this void of renewable energy — specifically for electricity generation — cost information. The database is a compilation of existing cost data for wind, solar photovoltaic (solar PV), solar thermal (CSP), and geothermal energy technologies, including historical costs and projected costs for each. The data sources and references used to compile this information are included, as well as the experts that were consulted in identifying sources.

The database separates information collected from primary and secondary sources. Often, data collected for one study is recycled into another, which is further referenced elsewhere, and so on. Identifying which sources are based on original data collection and which relied on previous work should be useful information.

Qualifications

The database has some limitations. First, the data is based only on publicly available sources; actual costs of renewable energy projects are not typically divulged. Because there is a time lag in making technical papers publicly available, and because the renewable energy field is rapidly evolving, the information contained in it is not immediately current. Finally, while we include cost information along different metrics (e.g., capital costs, operating costs, maintenance costs, etc) different sources may define these costs differently. Thus, true “apple to apple” comparisons may require a more extensive look into the sources. Still, the spreadsheet does provide a reasonable aggregate view of costs.

Intended audience

It is our hope that this database will prove valuable to a variety of users interested in renewable energy markets. Lawmakers on the local and national level, industry analysts, and ultimately, American energy consumers have a stake in accurate information on the cost of energy. If renewable technologies continue their growth apace, tracking changes in their associated costs will allow us to not only monitor the maturation of renewables markets, but compare their costs to non-renewable alternatives.

Download

Download the database (XLS) (917K, Excel Viewer Exit EPA Disclaimer)

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