Los Angeles seeks record sub-two cent solar power price


From pv magazine USA.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) board of commissioners was presented with the Eland Solar & Storage Center in Kern County, California, from a LADWP internal team on June 18.

The team told the commissioners that on July 23, they plan to seek approval of a two phase 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) priced at $0.01997/kWh for 400 MWac / 530 MWdc of solar electricity delivered at time of generation plus a $0.013/kWh adder for the excess electricity later delivered from a co-located 200 MW / 400 MWh energy storage system.

Per an email from 8minute, the project will be built in two 200 MWac solar phases. There is no price escalator, and the solar portion is a record low price for the United States. It even beats out the current U.S. pricing leader – 8minute's $0.02375/kWh from the 300 MW Eagle Shadow Mountain solar project.

The project includes the option to add 50 MW / 200 MWh of energy storage for an additional adder of $0.00665/kWh. It was suggested that the excess electricity will be used during the evening peak period to ease ramping, though one presenter also brought up that the morning peak was as important to consider (see analysis of this volume at end of article).


The Kern County website holds thousands of pages of development documents – mostly related to environmental analysis – with some describing the installation itself. The project will be built among more than 1 GWac of solar facilities, including others developed by 8minute. The site documents state there is more than 500 MWac of capacity available on various pieces of land in the Eland development proposal, meaning the site will probably expand as more PPAs are signed.

The current world record solar power price was signed in Mexico at $0.0197/kWh, as part of a batch of projects averaging just over $0.02. While a lower bid was submitted in Saudi Arabia, at $0.0179/kWh, it was overlooked in favor of an higher bid from a Saudi developer.

A LADWP representative noted there were probably seven or so other projects on the shortlist the utility is in advanced negotiations with.

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The Eland project is expected to receive a note to proceed with construction in 2022, with its first installed capacity set to deliver in April 2023, and a guaranteed commercial operation date of the last day of that year. The presenting team noted the project would represent around 5% of the LADWP renewable portfolio standard goal (see image below) of sourcing 100% clean electricity by 2050.

Using Helioscope (pdf), and data from the Kern County documents, pv magazine USA did a rough simulation of a single 2.0 MW section, with 2.65 MW of modules attached using single axis trackers located at the site. The purpose of doing this was to determine the volume of electricity that could be captured from clipping if a 1 MW / 4 MWh battery was put behind the above layout.

This author does believe that the output will be even greater than is projected here as standard solar modules are modeled, while we are expect bifacial on this project.

Note in the image below from the simulation – there will be approximately 2.7% clipping loss over the course of the year equal to ~181 MWh/year (called “Constrained DC Output” in below left chart). A 1 MW / 4 MWh battery that cycles once a day for a year can move 1.4 GWh/year.

Since the units would only be able to cycle once per day with excess solar power, they could also be performing other tasks in periods outside the charging-discharging period. The presenters noted the morning electricity ramp needs support too, so there could be other services the project delivers to LADWP.


Edits: This article was corrected and updated around 11:40 AM Eastern Time (U.S.) on June 28. 8minute has communicated there is no price escalator, and that the second phase is a full second 200 MWac / 265 MWdc + (maybe) 100 MW / 400 MWh.

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