PV has the lowest LCOE in Germany, finds Fraunhofer ISE

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Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have today presented the fourth edition of their study on the costs of renewable energy technology, titled Stromgestehungskosten Erneuerbare Energien.

The cost forecasts of the previous studies have been confirmed, said project leader Christoph Kost at the presentation of the study. “The production costs for electricity from renewable energies are constantly decreasing and are no longer an obstacle to CO₂-free power generation.”

Newly constructed PV systems and onshore wind turbines at favorable locations are already cheaper than fossil power plants, “and this trend will significantly increase until 2035”, he added.

On average, PV is the most cost-effective technology among all power plant types in Germany, according to the study. Depending on the type of plant and global radiation, PV systems in Germany can currently provide generation costs between €0.0371 and €0.1154 per kWh.

Depending on the type of plant, the specific system costs would be between €600 and €1,400 euros per kW installed.

For comparison: Onshore wind turbines are the second-cheapest generation technology with power production costs ranging from €0.0399 to €0.0823 ​​per kWh, while offshore wind turbines offer a range of €0.0749 to €0.1379 per kWh.

The scientists still see significant cost-cutting potential, especially in offshore wind power: By 2035, wind would reach prices comparable to today’s PV power plants at between €0.0349 to €0.1007 per kWh.

Lignite-fired power plants built in 2018 would currently cost between €0.0459 and €0.079, large coal-fired power plants at between €0.0627 and €0.0986, and gas and steam power plants at between €0.0778 and €0.0996.

At between €0.1103 and €0.2194 per kWh, pure gas-fired power plants are currently pointed out as much more expensive.

According to the study, technological developments in PV and wind power will further reduce costs in the future. PV ground-mounted systems in southern Germany and onshore wind turbines at wind-swept locations will, therefore, significantly undercut the average cost of electricity of all fossil-fuel power plants by 2035.

From 2030, the cost of electricity for PV systems is expected to fall below €0.047 per kWh for rooftop projects and below €0.0241 for large-scale projects, with the cost for installed power ranging from €350 to €815 per kW installed by 2035.

In addition, the lifetime of the PV systems will increase, according to the study. “Already today, many module manufacturers offer guarantees on the performance of the modules over 25 years. Increasing the life of the system from 25 to 30 years reduces the cost of electricity generation by a further 8.5%,” the authors of the study said.