Game Change: Wind/Solar Plus Battery Breakthrough

January 15, 2018


Solar, wind, and battery prices are dropping so fast that, in Colorado, building new renewable power plus battery storage is now cheaper than running old coal plants. This increasingly renders existing coal plants obsolete.

Two weeks ago, Xcel Energy quietly reported dozens of shockingly low bids it had received for building new solar and wind farms, many with battery storage (see table below).

The median bid price in 2017 for wind plus battery storage was $21 per megawatt-hour, which is 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour. As Carbon Tracker noted, this “appears to be lower than the operating cost of all coal plants currently in Colorado.”

The median bid price for solar plus battery storage was $36/MWh (3.6 cents/kwh), which may be lower than about three-fourths of operating coal capacity.  For context, the average U.S. residential price for electricity is 12 cents/kWh.


Click to enlarge


Wind alone was bid at an astonishingly low median price of $18.10/MWh, smashing previous records. A total of 17,380 MW of wind capacity was bid with this as the median price.

The big surprise, however, was the very low bid for wind and solar plus storage. Wind and solar plus battery storage had seven bids for a total of 4,048 MWh at a median bid of $30.60. The energy storage projects ranged from 4 to 10 hours in duration.

It is becoming increasingly clear that wind, solar, and storage are becoming unstoppable, and that coal is on the way out. The newly announced renewables plus storage bids have accelerated that process. With storage breaking records and new solar and wind bids lower than some existing conventional operation and maintenance,  the time has arrived.

7 Responses to “Game Change: Wind/Solar Plus Battery Breakthrough”

  1. indy222 Says:

    Now what’s needed is money going into the grid, because studies I’ve seen say that once solar goes beyond 20% penetration, the existing grid starts to raise the effective price on solar very rapidly. Perhaps the battery storage will be making a dent here.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    It freaks me out to see all those ventilated battery boxes naked under the sky, even if they’re installed on the dry (rainshadowed) part of the island.

  3. Kaj Luukko Says:

    If this is true, the electricity part of the climate crisis is solved. So, how many years do we still need to prove these claims right or wrong?

  4. grindupbaker Says:

    Some scientists asserted (I heard on CBC radio over decades) that hydrogen (electrolysis) will be the energy storage. I know nothing at all about the technology, just a little surprised that numerous comments about that, pro or con, aren’t appearing all over the place.

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