Geothermal cost comparison to Wind and Coal

How does geothermal compare with wind and/or coal technology?  Choose ONE of these for the criteria for your response: 1. cost per KwH, 2. availability of technology, 3. environmental impact.

Table 1 shows the variation in the cost per kwh for geothermal, wind, and coal electrical generation facilities. I believe Reference 5 is the most reputable of the sources listed. This report for Congress provides a brief summary about future power generation methods as well as provide insight into the economic issues. This document was prepared to support policy decisions by Congress.

In those areas of the country for which geothermal is a suitable option based on the area geology, geothermal would be the best option based on cost. It is important to recognize that some areas of the country are better suited to other options including coal, wind, nuclear, and solar. Geothermal does have the downside of extremely high fixed operations and maintenance costs compared to other generation methods.

Table 1 Cents per kwh costs for Geothermal, Wind, and Coal Plants

Geothermal

Wind

Coal

Reference(s)

3.6

5.5

1

5.8-9.3

5.7-11.3

7.8-14.4

2

1.5-7.0

2.0-5.0

3

4-8

4

5.9

8.1

6.3

5

References

1. Can Geothermal Power Compete with Coal on Price? , Scientific American, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=can-geothermal-power-compete-with-coal-on-price

2. Comparative Electrical Generation Costs, Sourcewatch and Lazard Ltd. (Investment bankers), Feb. 2009, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Comparative_electrical_generation_costs

3. Geothermal Economics , Renewable Energy Policy Project, Chapter 5, Table 7 http://www.repp.org/geothermal/geothermal_brief_economics.html

4. Primer on Geothermal Energy , How much does geothermal energy cost per kwh?, Electric Light & Power, http://www.elp.com/index/display/article-display/192700/articles/electric-light-power/volume-81/issue-11/power-plays/primer-on-geothermal-energy.html

5. Power Plants: Characteristics and Costs , Table 7, page CRS-39, Total Annualized $/Mwh (Note- $/Mwh x .1 = cents/kwh), November 13, 2008, Stan Kaplan, Congressional Research Service, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34746.pdf


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