Estimated Capital Cost of Power Generating Plant Technologies (USD per kW)


Based on the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) which forms the basis for the calculation of 2007 Annual Energy Outlook, the estimated capital cost of constructing a power generating plant per type of technology is as follow. This is assuming that the order was placed in 2006;

Technology Year
on line
Advanced open cycle gas turbine 2008 398
Conventional open cycle gas turbine 2008 420
Advanced gas/oil combined cycle 2009 594
Conventional gas/oil combined cycle 2009 603
Distributed generation (base load) 2009 859
Distributed generation (peak load) 2008 1032
Advanced combined cycle with sequestration 2010 1185
Wind 2009 1208
Coal-fired plant with scrubber 2010 1290
IGCC 2010 1490
Conventional hydropower 2010 1500
Biomass 2010 1869
Geothermal 2010 1880
Advanced nuclear 2011 2081
IGCC with carbon sequestration 2010 2134
Solar thermal 2009 3149
Fuel cell 2009 4520
Photovoltaic 2008 4751

Based on the above table, advanced open cycle gas turbine has the least cost and one of the fastest to construct (2-3 years), probably due to its matured technology as compared to photovoltaic, fuel cell, and solar thermal technologies, which has a cost of more than 10 times of the advanced open cycle gas turbine plants.

Though the fuel source is clean, cheap and renewable, most renewable power plant technologies utilizing this kind of fuel are the most expensive as compared to plants using fossil fuels. Among renewable energy technologies, wind power plant is the less expensive. Aside from capital extensiveness, low capacity factor (except geothermal) makes the cost of energy produced from renewable energy even higher.

Technologies Capacity factor
Gas turbine combined cycle 80-90
Nuclear 90
Average US coal plant 68
Biomass 68
Geothermal 90
Hydropower 44
Wind turbine 30
Solar 20

Typical capacity factors for power generating plants (%)

Note that this cost is based on the United States where plant equipment is more likely to be sourced and the unit size of generating units are relatively bigger than what other small countries, usually, have. Thus, the cost per megawatt of constructing a power plant will be higher to other countries outside of the United States and Europe and if the generating unit size is lower. In the Philippines, for example, the cost of constructing a coal power plant is estimated to range from $1.6 million to $2.0 million per megawatt as compared to around $1.3 million per megawatt in the US.

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