Solar prices declined 1.5%, wind up 2.4%, says LevelTen’s Q1 PPA index for N America – Renewables Now

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After years of energy market volatility, North American power purchase agreement (PPA) prices showed increased stability in the first quarter of 2024. P25 solar and wind PPA offer prices increased less than 1% in Q1, according to a new report from LevelTen Energy, operator of the world’s largest PPA marketplace. P25 solar PPA prices declined 1.5% over Q1 and P25 wind prices increased 2.4%.

“A lower natural gas price from the mild winter and abundant solar panels, combined with hopes of lower interest rates, allowed some developers to offer slightly lower prices this quarter,” said Sam Mumford, Analyst, Energy Modeling at LevelTen Energy.

“We don’t expect this window of opportunity to last indefinitely,” Mumford said. “Demand is increasing rapidly from AI and the electrification of everything, and more corporations are entering the PPA buyer pool as 2030 sustainability deadlines approach. Trade restrictions could impact pricing soon as President Biden’s two-year tariff moratorium on PV components shipped from certain Southeast Asian countries ends in June. Heightened government scrutiny on the solar supply chain could increase costs for developers — with the potential for PPA pricing impacts,” he said.

Solar price drops in some markets show opportunities for buyers

For the second consecutive quarter, P25 solar prices decreased in Texas (ERCOT), this quarter by 1.6%. “We continue to see positive pricing trends from the ERCOT solar market. Consistent levels of high-quality offers, paired with favourable future capture prices, indicate that ERCOT could be a place for buyers to look for value,” he said.

California (CAISO)’s P25 solar PPA price also declined, with a 12.7% drop this quarter. “The price drop in CAISO was largely driven by a high volume of competitively-priced projects under 50 MW that entered the LevelTen Energy Marketplace in Q1,” said Mumford.

“In contrast, in Alberta (AESO) we saw an increase in offer liquidity, most likely due to the recent lifting of the moratorium on any renewable energy development greater than 1 MW in the province. However, significant regulatory uncertainty remains, which could explain the 7.2% increase in P25 solar prices,” Mumford said. “We saw more offers in AESO this quarter, and at a higher price than the offers in Q4,” he said.

Wind prices impacted by high development costs

“Across North America, wind P25 prices rose 2.4%,” Mumford said. Although wind prices have benefitted from some of the same tailwinds as solar prices, the availability and pricing of turbines remain a challenge for developers.

Meanwhile, P25 wind prices in PJM increased 17.7%. “This increase is likely due to growing project development costs more broadly, including those related to land, interconnection, supply chain and construction,” Mumford said. “We saw several projects in PJM increase their prices significantly in Q1 compared to Q4. Interconnection burdens might lessen as the year progresses, but it’s unlikely we’ll see reduced costs in the other areas,” he said.

Rare window of stability makes now a good time to buy

“After years of energy market volatility, Q1 of 2024 showed a rare window of relative stability in PPA prices,” said Mumford. “We don’t expect that trend to last forever. Growing demand will continue to push up the cost of PPAs. In 2023, LevelTen and our partners facilitated 42 power purchase agreements, for a record-breaking 98 million megawatt hours of clean electricity – and we expect that number to grow in 2024. Smart buyers will act now to secure the best deals before regulations tighten and competition rises,” he said.

Faced with looming Scope 2 deadlines and higher competition for PPAs, the market’s savviest buyers are turning to new, faster ways to procure. To answer this need, LevelTen developed LevelTen Energy’s Accelerated Process (LEAP™), which has reduced the timeline of a traditional RFP and PPA negotiation process from the typical 12 months or longer down to about 100 days. Recently, LevelTen and a major tech company announced 1.5 GW procured via LEAP.

“While prices are relatively stable this quarter, they remain high, and companies need options. Bundling PPAs and clean energy tax credits together is an emerging alternative for buyers that can make their procurements more financially sustainable,” Mumford said. “LevelTen is actively exploring new solutions like these that help buyers navigate current market conditions,” he said.

Download the free executive summary

LevelTen’s report helps renewable energy developers, buyers and financiers navigate the PPA market with data from real PPA price offers and expert insights. Visit www.leveltenenergy.com/ppa to download the free executive summary or subscribe to the full report.

*LevelTen’s P25 Price Index represents 25th percentile PPA prices. All PPA price data in LevelTen’s report are based on the prices that developers are offering for PPA contracts, not transacted PPA prices.

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