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What does electricity cost to produce?

November 9, 2022

Virtually every promoter of electricity generation argues that their process and equipment provides the most cost-effective electricity. To break this nexus, industry, government and investors developed a methodology to standardise cost and differentiate between the competing technologies now known as Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). Greatcell Solar Italia has expertise in the calculation and prediction of LCOE, particularly as it applies to 3rd Generation photovoltaics

The purpose of LCOE is to be an all-inclusive metric to establish the average cost of each kW/h produced by a power plant over its lifetime. The metric includes and factorises the plant commissioning and decommissioning, fuel, maintenance and financing costs. It also counts the cost of remediation arising from environmental damage caused by a particular generation of technology. Of course, the worst damage derives from coal-fired plant and nuclear. But even solar photovoltaics have an ecological impact arising from the amount of electricity required to manufacture and install and possible land remediation at the end of life. PSC has several benefits not just compared to fossil-fuel electricity generation but also when compared with classical crystalline silicon generation, such as in solar farms.

As a milestone in its EU funded Apolo project, Greatcell Solar Italia has recently drafted the LCOE evaluation of a flexible PSC product that is under consideration for manufacture. This preliminary assessment utilised laboratory standard materials and processes. Not surprisingly, it found that the highest cost in PSC was the thin film conductive gold and its vacuum deposition, while secondary expenses arose from organic hole conductors. Fortunately, the amelioration of these expenses uses alternative metallic or carbon/graphene conductors and inorganic hole conductors. Another significant impact on the cost arises from the protective layers used to seal and laminate the panels. Greatcell Solar Italia is already testing some innovative barriers that will reduce the number of barrier layers required and minimise costs.

These changes may result in a small reduction in module performance, but the overall LCOE is forecast to demonstrate a highly competitive price, with particular benefits arising when solar insolation is not ideal and in later years of operation.

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