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Wind and Solar Power Overtaking Fossil Fuels in US


Wind PowerPurchase agreements for wind farms and solar projects in the United States continue to grow at the cost for wind energy and solar power decreases.

25% of all contracts for wind power are in Texas and they are regularly below $30/MWh, with some are as low at $25/MWh. Advances in equipment is lifting capacity factors by 5 percentage points. Texas’ excellent wind conditions mean that wind farms are getting capacity factors in the high 40% or low 50%. Half of this occurs during peak load, which defies the popular notion that wind is an off-peak power source.

In Colorado, Xcel, a local utility, announced new contracts for solar PV plants below 6c/kWh ($60/MWh), making it the lowest solar pricing had seen in the US. This information confirms a recent survey by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which found pricing in that range and with no inflation kicker. This means the solar plants would be producing for an effective $40/MWh by the end of their contracts.

This equates to depreciated fossil fuel plants since the variable costs of gas-fired plants are likely to be at least $30/MWh, not including capital costs.

Even fossil fuel plants in their prime are being replaced by solar PV plants, a harbinger of things to come.

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