LBNL Reviews the Cost of Transmission for Wind Power

A new report released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) assesses the cost of new transmission for wind through a review of 40 detailed transmission studies that involve wind energy.

“The range in transmission costs for wind implied by these 40 studies was surprisingly large,” said Andrew Mills, the report’s author, of LBNL. “A significant portion of our effort in this report was trying to understand the drivers and implications of these cost differences.”

The mid-range transmission cost per kW of wind was found to be $300/kW, about 15-20% of the cost of a new wind plant. Though the cost of transmission for wind is not insignificant, the report finds little evidence that transmission costs necessarily increase at greater levels of wind penetration. For example, numerous studies of large amounts of new wind generation, including a detailed study of 20% wind energy penetration in the Eastern Interconnection, have transmission costs per kW of wind that are among the lower end of the sample.

“One of the important motivations of this study was to compare the cost of transmission across a wide variety of studies to the results from higher-level assessments of the need for and cost of transmission for wind,” notes co-author Ryan Wiser.  “We found that the transmission costs estimated in a recent U.S. Department of Energy study on 20% wind electricity in the U.S. broadly agreed with our sample of detailed transmission studies.”  

The report can be downloaded by clicking here.

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