Sonal Patel, Power
Natural gas combined cycle, wind, and residential solar photovoltaic technologies may be the least-expensive way to generate power across a wide swathe of the U.S., an interactive map published and recently updated by the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Energy Institute shows.
The interactive chart (Version 1.4.0, retrieved on October 4, 2018), first published in 2016, breaks down the cheapest technologies, ranked by levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), and assigns them to every U.S. county as well as congressional district. Technologies include: coal (bituminous and sub-bituminous, with partial (30%) and full (90%) carbon capture and sequestration); natural gas combined cycle, with and without carbon capture and sequestration); natural gas combustion turbine; nuclear; onshore wind; solar PV (utility and residential); and concentrating solar power (with six hours of storage).
According to Dr. Joshua Rhodes, postdoctoral research fellow at the Energy Institute and lead author of the paper, the cost estimates are based on a series of assumptions that researchers debated at length. The cost assumptions, specifically capital costs, that underlie each generating technology were recently updated, he said in late September.