New Figures on the Costs of Generating Electricity Released Today

A new study of the costs of generating electricity was published today by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA). Previous editions of Projected Costs of Generating Electricity have served as the reference in this field for energy policy makers, electricity system analysts and energy economists. The study is particularly timely in the light of current discussions of energy policy in many countries.

The joint IEA/NEA study provides generation cost estimates for over a hundred power plants that use a variety of fuels and technologies. These include coal-fired, gas-fired, nuclear, hydro, solar and wind plants. Cost estimates are also given for combined heat and power plants that use coal, gas and combustible renewables.

Data and information for this study were provided by experts from 19 OECD member countries and 3 non-member countries. The power plants examined in the study use technologies available today and considered by participating countries as candidates for commissioning by 2010-2015 or earlier.

Investors and other decision makers will also need to take the full range of other factors into account (such as security of supply, risks and carbon emissions) when selecting an electricity generation technology.

The study shows that the competitiveness of alternative generation sources and technologies ultimately depends on many parameters: there is no clear-cut “winner”. Major issues related to generation costs addressed in the report include: descriptions of state-of-the-art generation technologies; the methodologies for incorporating risk in cost assessments; the impact of carbon emission trading; and how to integrate wind power into the electricity grid. An appendix to the report provides country statements on generation technologies and costs. Previous studies in the series were published in 1983, 1986, 1990, 1993 and 1998.