Construction costs for most power plant types fell from 2013 to 2015, based on survey data for utility-scale electric generators (those with a capacity greater than one megawatt) built in that period, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).


In 2015, wind, natural gas and solar were the most commonly added capacity types, according to the EIA, adding 8.1 gigawatts (GW), 6.5 GW and 3.2 GW, respectively. Almost all wind- and solar-powered additions (98% and 91%, respectively) were at entirely new plants, as opposed to generators added at existing plants.


The capacity-weighted cost of installing wind turbines was $1,661 per kilowatt (kW) in 2015, a 12% decrease from 2013. Costs tend to be lower for larger wind plants, as plants above 100 megawatts (MW) averaged lower costs than those below 100 MW, likely reflecting economies of scale, the EIA said.


About 60% of natural-gas capacity added in 2015 involved new generators at new plants, and the remaining 40% were new generators at existing plants, according to the EIA. For other fuels such as hydro and petroleum liquids, which had relatively little capacity added in 2015, almost all additions were at existing plants.


The average cost of natural gas generators installed in 2015 was $696/kW, a 28% decline from 2013. Nearly 75% of the natural gas capacity installed in 2015 were combined-cycle units, which had an average installed cost of $614/kW. Combined-cycle natural gas plants include at least one combustion turbine and one steam turbine and are generally more efficient than plants with combustion turbines alone. About 1.5 GW of natural gas plants with only combustion turbines were installed in 2015, at an average cost of $779/kW. Natural gas plants with internal combustion engines were more expensive, averaging $1,798/kW for the 0.2 GW installed in 2015.


Industrial Info is tracking 3,146 active Power Industry capital projects worth $620.68 billion in the U.S. This includes 2,503 renewable energy projects worth $345.34 billion, and 282 natural gas generator-related projects worth $119.27 billion.


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