How Much A Solar Power Plant Cost?

The cost of installing a solar farm ranges from $0.89 to $1.01 per watt. A solar farm with a capacity of 1 megawatt (MW) would cost between $890,000 and $1.01 million.

The SEIA’s average national cost figures for Q4 2021 are used to calculate these figures. They also assume you already own the property on which the solar farm will be built.

Solar farms are significantly less expensive to develop and maintain than rooftop solar panels. According to SEIA statistics, household solar panel systems with a capacity of less than 20 kW cost $3.06 per watt.

In other words, a solar farm’s cost per watt is less than a third of the cost of installing home solar panels.

Solar farms’ low cost is also one of the reasons why utilities are increasingly turning to them when building new power producing capacity. Solar is no longer just one of the cheapest renewable energy sources; it is now also competitive with fossil fuel energy sources!

How much does it cost to develop a solar power plant?

The type of planned facility is one of the most important elements impacting building costs for power producing facilities. Depending on whether they are coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fired power plants, solar, wind, or nuclear generation facilities, construction prices can vary significantly. Construction costs between different types of production facilities are a crucial consideration for investors in power generation facilities when determining whether an investment will be profitable. In order to evaluate a suitable rate of return, investors must also consider other elements such as continuing maintenance expenses and future demand. The capital cost of bringing a plant online, however, is at the heart of any estimate. As a result, a quick rundown of actual building prices for various types of power plants is a good place to start before diving into additional factors that influence power plant construction costs.

When estimating power plant building costs, keep in mind that actual construction prices are influenced by a variety of factors. Access to resources that drive power production, for example, can have a significant impact on construction costs. Solar, wind, and geothermal resources are unevenly dispersed, and the cost of accessing and exploiting them will rise over time. Early market entrants will benefit from the most cost-effective resource access, whereas newer projects may have to pay much more for comparable resources. The regulatory environment in which the power plant is built can have a significant impact on the construction project’s lead time. This might result in greater interest accrual and overall construction costs for projects with a large initial investment in construction. Refer to the Capital Cost Estimates for Utility Scale Electricity Generating Plants published by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2016 for further information on the plethora of factors that can influence power plant building costs.

The cost of constructing a power plant is expressed in dollars per kilowatt. The EIA is the source of the data presented in this section. We’ll be using power plant construction costs for power producing facilities built in 2015, which can be found here. This is the most recent data available, however the EIA is anticipated to disclose 2016 power plant building costs in July 2018. The EIA’s publications are one of the most significant sources of information for people interested in power plant building costs. The EIA data is important in illustrating the complicated nature of power plant building costs, as well as the numerous variables that can affect not only power plant construction costs but also ongoing profitability.


In 2015, power plants that used wind as a renewable energy source added the most capacity to the system without significantly increasing fuel costs. In the United States, the use of wind as a source of electricity has gradually increased. Wind energy power plants added 8,064 megawatts (MW) of capacity in 2015. When compared to petroleum-based generation plants, which added 45 MW of capacity, the tremendous rise of wind-powered power plants is clear. The average cost of constructing a wind power facility was $1,661 per kilowatt of installed nameplate activity. For 66 generators, this resulted in a total construction cost of $13,395,684.

It’s vital to remember that wind turbine building is greatly influenced by the existing regulatory environment and generation prices. Consider that, according to this EIA study, wind-powered power plants installed less than 900 MW of capacity in 2013, compared to almost 8,000 MW in 2015. The most significant reason for this was the expiration of a federal production tax credit at the end of 2012, which urged investors to delay new wind power generator construction until the tax credit was renewed in early 2013, which they did. Given the gap in output, the additional capacity added in 2015 can be viewed as a resumed investment once a more favorable regulatory framework was in place.

Natural Gas

Natural gas-fired power facilities have been a major driver of grid expansion in recent years, and 2015 was no different. Natural gas power stations installed 6,549 megawatts of capacity in 2015. Construction expenditures for natural gas power plants in the same year averaged $812 per kilowatt hour, totaling $5,318,957 for 74 units. In natural gas power plants, there are three major types of technology used. Each technique has a significant impact on the overall construction expenses. Internal combustion engines accounted for only a minor portion of the capacity added, with mixed cycle natural gas power plants (4,755 MW) and combustion turbines (1,553) accounting for the rest of the capacity added (240). However, this does not give the whole story.

Combined cycle plants, which have at least one combustion turbine and one steam turbine, are significantly more efficient than other varieties. While this decreases long-term operational costs, it also raises construction capital costs. Combustion turbine natural gas power plants are less efficient than combined cycle power plants, resulting in higher operating costs but lower construction costs. Internal combustion engines and combustion turbine power generators both have the advantage of being built faster than combined cycle power plants. As a result, they’re now commonly used in instances where temporary capacity expansions are required to satisfy increased demand. Furthermore, despite the fact that combustion turbine plants are less efficient, they are only used to satisfy peak demand. Combined cycle plants, on the other hand, are more commonly employed to fulfill baseline demand loads due to their superior efficiency and lower operating costs.


The cost of building a solar power plant, like that of a natural gas plant, is greatly reliant on the underlying technology used in the facility. Furthermore, the capacity provided by solar power plants is determined by the technology used. As a result, the intersection between solar power plant construction costs and productive capacity is a key factor for investors to consider. For a total capacity increase of 3,192 MW, the average construction cost for all types of solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants was $2,921/kw. Solar PV plant construction expenses was $9,324,095 for 386 total generators. When compared to natural gas and wind, these figures show that solar plants produce less capacity gains per generator on average. Varying types of solar PV installations produce different amounts of energy.

The distinction between fixed-tilt and axis-based tracking systems is significant. Axis-based tracking systems are more expensive to install, but they have a larger production capacity than fixed tilt tracking systems, which could help offset ongoing operating expenses. Another thing to think about is the sort of solar PV system. Crystallized silicon and thin-film CdTe are the two most common varieties on the market. These many categories each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Thin-film technology is newer, and thin-film plants have a higher average capacity than crystalline silicon plants (74 MW versus 7 MW). Construction costs are comparable for both plant types. For example, crystalline silicone plants cost $2,920/kw on average for axis-based tracking installations, compared to $3,117/kw for thin-film plants. Fixed and axis-tilt crystalline silicon installations considerably outpaced thin-film installations in 2015, demonstrating a strong market preference for crystalline silicon solar power plants.


Despite the fact that few nuclear power plants have been built in recent years, nuclear power plants remain an important part of our energy infrastructure. In reality, the Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear power station, which was finished in 2016, was the most current nuclear power facility to be completed. This project was completed after decades of delays, approximately 20 years after the previous nuclear power plant in the United States, the Watts Bar Unit 1, was completed in 1996. There are no entirely accurate or up-to-date nuclear power plant building costs available due to the paucity of new nuclear plant construction. According to an EIA economic projection provided in 2018, nuclear power plants started in 2016 would have a base overnight cost of $5,148, excluding any changes that may occur in the interim. One thing to keep in mind about the nuclear business and nuclear power facilities is that they take a long time to build. According to the EIA, if building began in 2016, a nuclear reactor and power plant might be operational by 2022. If building prices as a whole continue to climb at their current rate, nuclear power station construction will be more sensitive to cost overruns.

Is it expensive to build a solar power plant?

The revelation comes on the heels of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) announcement in its World Energy Outlook 2020 that solar power is currently the cheapest electricity ever. In most large countries, the technology is cheaper than coal and gas, according to the prognosis.

How much does it cost to keep a solar power plant operational?

For example, the average overall operating expense in 2019 ranges from $13 to $25/kW/yr (Wiser 2020) among 13 sources; in a prior analysis, O&M costs for 2015 ranged from a minimum of $12/kW/year to a maximum of $30/kW/year (Wiser 2020). (Bollinger 2017).

Is it possible to make money from a solar farm?

Solar farms can be quite successful across a wide range of price points, ranging from $20000 to $60000 per acre. It truly depends on a thorough examination of each unique property.

To be lucrative, solar farm land must meet certain criteria.

The basic prerequisites for any developer intending to build a solar energy plant are level land with no shade and a good irradiance value in the region.

Due to economies of scale throughout the acquisition and construction phases, larger farms yield higher financial profits. Profits would increase as the number of acres increased, but the capital costs may be in the millions of dollars.

What does it cost to build a power plant?

The cost of building a nuclear power plant is expected to skyrocket. Companies building new nuclear plants are presently estimating total costs (including escalation and financing costs) to be between $5,500 and $8,100 per kW, or between $6 and $9 billion for each 1,100 MW reactor.

Is solar energy less expensive than electricity?

Although solar energy is more expensive to purchase and install at first, due to the rising cost of electricity, individuals find that solar energy is much less expensive in the long term than electric power.

What is the most cost-effective electricity source?

Many of us may believe that the reason so much energy is still generated by gas and coal power plants is basic economics: these fuels are less expensive. However, while this notion was formerly correct, it has been debunked by a dramatic drop in solar and wind energy costs over the last decade.

Onshore wind and solar are presently the cheapest sources of energy from new power facilities, costing less than gas, geothermal, coal, or nuclear power.

What is the most cost-effective way to generate electricity?

According to a new report issued on Thursday by the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute, natural gas, solar, and wind are the cheapest ways to create electric electricity.

How much land does a solar farm need?

According to GTM Research, a 1 MW solar farm requires 68 acres to accommodate all of the equipment and space between panel rows.

Keep in mind that large solar projects require more than just space for the solar arrays. In addition to land, allied equipment like as inverters must be housed, and space must be left between rows of solar panels for repair and maintenance access.

How long does it take to build a solar farm?

Construction of a solar farm can be completed in a matter of months, depending on the scale of the project and the amount of people working on it.

However, securing a location and obtaining a permission is even more difficult. A solar farm can take up to 35 years to have all of the relevant approvals and contracts in place.

After a solar farm is installed and operational, it requires very little maintenance and may be serviced 34 times per year.

How much money can you make with a solar farm?

Selling the electricity generated by a 1 MW solar farm can bring in around $40,000 per year in revenue.

Purchase-Power Agreements (PPAs) are used by utility-scale solar farms to sell their power on the wholesale electricity market. Electricity marketplaces like LevelTen Energy can help with this.

Solar power traded at $29.75 per MWh in Q4 2021, according to LevelTen Energy’s P25 national index. The P25 index indicates that the 25th percentile of PPAs sold for less than this, while the 75th percentile sold for more, and is thus a conservative value.

We know that a 1 MW solar farm would produce 1,460 MWh per year based on the national average of four peak sun hours each day. That means the average 1 MW solar farm can anticipate to earn around $43,500 per year in revenue.

These are, of course, average values. The amount of money you make depends on a variety of things, including the amount of solar power produced in your location and the wholesale rate for solar energy.

Furthermore, keep in mind that PPA values vary widely depending on wholesale electricity rates in your Regional Transmission Organization’s area.

What is the size of a 1 megawatt solar farm?

A 1 watt solar power plant requires around 100000 square feet, or 2.5 acres. Because large ground-mounted solar PV farms require space for other accessories, a 1 MW solar power plant will require approximately 4 acres of land.