The Aurora Energy analysis – published today to coincide with the UK Tory party conference, where all energies routinely lobby the government – shows that the cost of integrating solar into the power system, including ‘back-up’, is negligible at only £1.30 per MWh, or less than 2% of the costs of solar.
This report quantifies for the first time the negligible cost of integrating solar into the UK power market, both today and in a 2030 scenario where solar provides over 10% of British electricity.
This clarity on the costs of integrating large volumes of solar, together with further expected cost reductions in solar installations, supports the STA’s and other analysts’ expectation that solar can be the lowest cost form of energy generation in the 2020s.
Dr Benjamin Irons, a Director of Aurora Energy Research and lead-author of the report said; “Recent spectacular technological progress in renewable power generation puts the promise of cheap, low carbon power within reach.
“The challenge of integrating large volumes of renewables into the network in a way that provides reliable power to consumers and an attractive market for complementary generation technologies is the ‘last frontier’ in delivering the power system of tomorrow.
“Our analysis shows that such integration is possible and surprisingly affordable: the UK could more than triple the amount of solar power on the system by 2030, with associated costs of integration and backup so low as as to be dwarfed by the enormous cost savings anticipated from falling solar prices over the same period.
“Battery storage aids integration even further, as does a diverse renewable portfolio including wind.”
Paul Barwell, Chief Executive, Solar Trade Association, added; “Britain is concerned about its international competitiveness as it exits the EU and moves to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“The good news is backing solar power, the UK’s most popular energy technology, looks set to enhance UK competitiveness – so there need be no trade-offs.
“The report also shows that solar sits right at the heart of the Smart Power agenda, which – overall -could save consumers billions every year. Solar is an enabling technology which brings down the cost of integrating wind and battery systems.
“We are on the cusp of an incredibly exciting technological transformation in the power system that the new Department of Business and Energy has an exceptional opportunity to drive forwards if we seize this agenda now.”
SNP MP Angus MacNeil, Chairman of the Common’s Energy and Climate Change Committee, commented: “Combined with reducing capital costs, solar is going to be as cheap as source of power as you’ll find anywhere.
“This welcome research puts numbers and maths behind the variability of solar power. It gives a concrete understanding of what solar has to offer compared to other technologies.”
The report by Aurora Energy Research can be downloaded here: http://www.solar-trade.org.uk/intermittency-cost-integrating-solar-gb-power-market/
Levelised costs for solar in 2015 were set out by DECC in their banding review consultation as £78 – £99/MWhhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/486116/Consultation_document_-_RO_banding_review_for_solar_PV.pdf
Many analysts predict that solar will be the cheapest source of power globally next decade, for example Current and Future Costs of Photovoltaics, Agora, 2015 https://www.agora-energiewende.de/en/topics/-agothem-/Produkt/produkt/88/Current+and+Future+Cost+of+Photovoltaics/