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Talk:Cost of electricity by source

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Reorganize around recent high-quality referencesEdit

Per the most recent comment by Jray310, this article contains more old information than is helpful for understanding its topic. In particular, recent studies for LCOE of solar PV and wind document that they have dropped sharply, which it inappropriate to place 5 year old studies next to them. I propose the following series of changes:

Simple changes:

  1. Remove references to the 2009 study and the 2012 study (note: the latter's validity was questioned in the text) as outdated. (Done.)
  2. Remove reference to Brazilian 2014 study focused on exergy, which is a separate topic.
  3. Remove reference to the 2014 Brookings study [1] which on page 10 cites capacity factors of < 20% for wind and solar, which is not accurate (34%/24% in 2016 according to EIA [2] ).
  4. Update the EIA study retrieved 11/12015 with the latest, from 5/2017 (op cit).
  5. Remove the 2014 California study, which the new EIA study supersedes.
  6. Remove the Lazard 2015 study, since we have the 2016. (That leaves us with 2 current US studies -- maybe compare and contrast findings?)
  7. In the Cost Factors section, mention that methodology is study-dependent. Also mention the costs of pollution, which are thoroughly documented on Wikipedia's Coal page [3]

Simple changes to the global section:

  1. Summarize the 2015 IEA study, or summarize an equal-quality update if we can find one.
  2. Delete the Buffet reference.
  3. Delete (or move; see below) the Saudi solar reference.
  4. Consider renaming to "World" (is there a Wikipedia style guideline?).

Structural changes:

  1. Rename the "Renewables" section to something like "By Source."
  2. For each source (coal, nuclear, solar, wind, etc) provide a subsection listing few simple recent references if we have them, favoring large scale studies.
  3. Delete discussions of history, replacing with references to other Wikipedia pages such as

Sampenrose (talk) 21:38, 29 July 2017 (UTC)

I removed the exergy section. Sampenrose (talk) 02:25, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

Move minutia of calculation below current estimatesEdit

The current structure has almost 2,500 words before it gets to the key data. While a definition of the concept belongs in the introduction, I'd like to move the caveats, source-specific concerns, etc., lower in the page on the theory that they are of less interest to the common reader. --Sampenrose (talk) 23:57, 15 January 2019 (UTC)— Preceding unsigned comment added by Sampenrose (talkcontribs) 20:23, 13 January 2019 (UTC)

I'm hoping to swap the first two sections later this weekend. Sampenrose (talk) 01:46, 2 November 2019 (UTC)
This is done. Sampenrose (talk) 20:30, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

Global section deletionEdit

@Sampenrose: Can you elaborate on your recent deletion decisions? Daask (talk) 15:22, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

Sure, thanks for asking. Broadly, two years ago I noticed that this page led with outdated information, some of it in oldest-first order. Timeliness is essential to an accurate page because the story of the last 20 years is that the cost of electricity from wind turbines and solar PV has become much lower. Specifics:
  1. The Brazilian exergy topic was unrelated to the rest of the page.
  2. The "Global" subsection inside the "Regional and Historical" section was outdated, as was the Brookings 2014 study and the paragraph criticizing it (which looks Talk-y to me). The Buffet and Bin Rashid were not studies but data points.

Let me know if you have a different perspective, and see also my other suggested improvements. I believe this page would make more sense with the following structure:

  1. The current opening two paragraphs.
  2. Current global LCOE studies.
  3. Maybe a few current regional studies and / or important data points (i.e. because offshore wind installations are few and large, a single data point is meaningful).
  4. The current section on methodology.
  5. A brief section on the history, pointing to a separate page.

This amounts to swapping the methodology and current sections, and moving history to its own page. Also, the page title is a bit of a misnomer. "Levelized cost of energy" is what the electricity industry uses, not "cost by source." I assume that ship has sailed as far as Wikipedia is concerned.

Thanks for your helpful contributions to this page! @Daask: Sampenrose (talk) 22:16, 2 November 2019 (UTC)

There's no misnomer, this article is mostly (but not exclusively) about listing Levelised Cost of Electricity by source. But it also includes capital costs, avoided cost etc. etc. by source. GliderMaven (talk) 23:50, 2 November 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the correction; my comment was imprecise and yours is on point. That said, insofar as we want Wikipedia to reflect the state of the usage broadly, "levelised cost of electricity" is a much better term. A search on Google Scholar for it in quotation marks returns 12,000 results, while "cost of electricity by source" returns 94. The numbers for are 200K and 26K, respectively. I submit that if we are going to have one page, it should be for the term that is order(s) of magnitude more popular. Sampenrose (talk) 02:28, 3 November 2019 (UTC)
The primary article topic is not LCOE, it is how cost compares between the different generation modalities. However, if you wish to try to rename the article, there's a process to be followed. GliderMaven (talk) 20:48, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

Clarify headline costs in "Recent global studies"Edit

The recent global studies draw on large data sets of individual facility costs and produce cost ranges; in the current prominent table some rows are lowest (Lazard) and some are average, resulting in an apples-to-orange comparison.

For renewables, we probably want to show both lowest and average costs; the former can be a better guide to the costs relevant to readers because of this dynamic:

  1. Researchers gather data on costs the year before study publication (say, 2018).
  2. The study is published (2019). Meanwhile, renewable costs continue to fall.
  3. A member of the public reads about a proposed electric generation decision in 2020 for a plant that will begin operation in 2023.
  4. They come to this page (in 2020) to compare costs by source; meanwhile renewable costs have continued to fall.
  5. They read the studies, all of which project further reductions in cost through 2023.

Separately, while renewable generation has trivial running costs, the LCOE of running a depreciated fossil fuel plant is very different from the LCOE of building a new one. We should therefore:

  1. Create columns for "lowest" and "average" that hold those values for renewables.
  2. Decide whether to pack fossil fuel values into the same columns: "lowest becomes" "lowest or fully depreciated" and "average" becomes "average (or undepreciated)" or to widen the table and make it sparse.
  3. Decide whether to add a column for future estimates (i.e. of further deflation for renewables), and if so whether it should be tied to one year, or whether the value includes the year.

Sampenrose (talk) 15:48, 4 November 2019 (UTC)

Use newest IRENA and Lazard studiesEdit

Return to "Cost of electricity by source" page.