NREL Study Suggests Cost Gap for Western Renewables Could Narrow by 2025 (NREL)
Geothermal power will likely remain more costly on an all-in, per-MWh basis than equivalent combined cycle natural gas turbine (CCGT) or other renewable power options in the West out to 2025, barring a significant breakthrough in current technology cost or performance.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicates that by 2025 wind and solar power electricity generation could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies, if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations.
The report, "Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West (PDF)," compares the cost of renewable power generation (without federal subsidy) from the West's most productive renewable energy resource areas — including any needed transmission and integration costs — with the cost of energy from a new natural gas-fired generator built near the customers it serves.
Among the report's findings is new geothermal development could trend toward Idaho by 2025 since much of Nevada's resources have already been developed. Geothermal power from Idaho could be competitive in California as well as in the Pacific Northwest, but the quantity is relatively small. Reaching California, Oregon, and Washington may depend on access to unused capacity on existing transmission lines, or on being part of a multi-resource portfolio carried across new lines.
The study suggests that geothermal power will likely remain more costly on an all-in, per-MWh basis than equivalent CCGT or other renewable power options in the West out to 2025, barring a significant breakthrough in current technology cost or performance. For wind and solar built in ideal locations, the gap could become small.