Renewable Energy World: Community Solar Cheaper Than World’s Most Efficient Concentrating Solar Power Plant took a look at the numbers and found that solar panels installed on residential rooftops in Los Angeles as part of the Open Neighborhoods community solar program will generate a cheaper cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity delivered than the most cost-effective, utility-scale concentrating solar power plant in the world.

When operations costs and cost of capital are considered, the levelized cost of the residential rooftop system is 17.3 cents per kWh, compared to 19.9 cents per kWh at the PS10 solar power tower in Spain.

Additionally considering transmission infrastructure and efficiency losses would further increase the levelized cost of the concentrating solar power plant.

In 2010, a buying group called Open Neighborhoods openly advertised an opportunity to get a solar PV system installed for $4.78 per Watt (not including any tax credits, rebates, or grants), a system that would produce approximately 1,492 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year (AC) for each kilowatt of capacity (DC). Based on the best available public information about the costs and performance of operational concentrating solar thermal power plants, the PS10 solar power tower – an 11 MW installation in Spain – has the lowest levelized cost of operation of any concentrating solar power plant that produces electricity.  PS10 had an installed cost of $4.15 per Watt and produces 2,127 kWh per kW of capacity.

However, due to higher operations costs and a higher cost of capital (8% rather than 5%) for a concentrating solar power plant, the levelized cost of the residential rooftop system (17.3 cents per kWh) is less than that of the power tower (19.9 cents per kWh).

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