This question may be outside of the scope for this forum, but I'm having a hard time finding good information, and thought asking here might be worthwhile.
I started looking into farm-scale solar here in Oregon, and found that we just don't have enough insolation here to get above the cost/benefit curve. If my property were in the Mojave Desert, however, the benefit is far above the cost curve. That got me wondering about the commercial viability of a small (~1MW) solar power plant in the Mojave, where 5 acres of land can be had for $5,000.
What is the cost per kW to set up solar on that sort of scale where you're not trying to offset energy consumption, just sell it straight to the grid?
Based on some research, I've come up with a bit more "information" on the subject (I put that word in quotes because some of it isn't something I can cite a viable source for. A key resource was the report that LShaver mentioned but couldn't link to):
- The preferred size for a small-scale utility PV plant is around 3 MW
- A 3 MW plant takes up just under 20 acres when roads and other non-generating aspects are taken into account
- Lots in the Mojave that are 20 acres in size still fall in the ~$1000 per acre that I mentioned above (example here)
- Project development and interconnection costs ran about $0.06 per watt ($60,000 per MW) in 2015, down from $0.12 from 2014
- Total project cost ran about $2.44 per watt ($2.44M per MW) in 2015, down from $2.73 in 2014
- Strictly using utility rates for Needles, CA, gross income per year is $314,200 per MW of installed capacity ($942,600/yr for a ~$7.5M, 3 MW project with a 33 year life expectancy). This is consistent with the "brown" energy price at SP-15, the electricity pricing point nearest Needles, CA.
- Utilities pay higher prices for solar than for mixed source generation through a "green tag" or "REC" marketplace. The market for green tags is separate from the market for energy. The prices of green tags has been falling for years as more installed solar is constructed, but the price seems to be currently between $10-15/MWh, adding ~$54,000-75,000 per year to the above revenue estimates for a 3 MW plant.