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A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity

Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 15, pp. 4470-4482, 2011

26 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2012  

Kadra Branker

Queen's University

Michael Pathak

Queen's University

Joshua M. Pearce

Michigan Technological University; Queen's University

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

As the solar photovoltaic (PV) matures, the economic feasibility of PV projects are increasingly being evaluated using the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) generation in order to be compared to other electricity generation technologies. Unfortunately, there is lack of clarity of reporting assumptions, justifications and degree of completeness in LCOE calculations, which produces widely varying and contradictory results. This paper reviews the methodology of properly calculating the LCOE for solar PV, correcting the misconceptions made in the assumptions found throughout the literature. Then a template is provided for better reporting of LCOE results for PV needed to influence policy mandates or make invest decisions. A numerical example is provided with variable ranges to test sensitivity, allowing for conclusions to be drawn on the most important variables. Grid parity is considered when the LCOE of solar PV is comparable with grid electrical prices of conventional technologies and is the industry target for cost-effectiveness. Given the state of the art in the technology and favorable financing terms it is clear that PV has already obtained grid parity in specific locations and as installed costs continue to decline, grid electricity prices continue to escalate, and industry experience increases, PV will become an increasingly economically advantageous source of electricity over expanding geographical regions.

Keywords: photovoltaic, levelized cost, LCOE, grid parity, solar economic

JEL Classification: N70, Q40, Q42, Q43, Q48

Suggested Citation

Branker, Kadra and Pathak, Michael and Pearce, Joshua M., A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity (2011). Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 15, pp. 4470-4482, 2011 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2006631

Kadra Branker

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

Michael Pathak

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

Joshua M. Pearce (Contact Author)

Michigan Technological University ( email )

Houghton, MI 49931
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mse.mtu.edu/~pearce/Index.html

Queen's University ( email )

Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.appropedia.org/User:J.M.Pearce

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