LevelTen: solar PPA prices demonstrate ‘increased stability’ in Q1 2024, falling 1.5%

In the quarter to the first quarter of 2024, the average renewable PPA price in North America increased by just 0.9%. Image: SunPower

Power purchase agreement (PPA) services company LevelTen Energy has published its latest report into renewable PPA prices, revealing what it called “increased stability” as renewable PPA offer prices in North America increased by less than 1% from the previous quarter.

LevelTen’s latest figures cover the first quarter of 2024, and demonstrate that, among the 25th percentile of PPA prices, the average price of a solar PPA fell by 1.5%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2023. By comparison, the average price of a wind PPA increased by 2.4%, giving renewable PPAs an overall price increase of just 0.9%, a significant stabilisation after months of continued fluctuations.

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In the fourth quarter of 2023, for instance, the average price of a solar PPA signed in North America reached US$52.69/MWh, the highest on record, and the second consecutive quarter in which solar PPA price had increased by around 4% quarter-on-quarter.

Much of this stability was driven by declines in solar PPA prices in the US, with the average price of a solar PPA in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market falling by 1.6%, the second consecutive quarter in which such prices fell, and the price of solar PPAs signed in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) market falling by 12.7%.

Conversely, within the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) grid in Canada, solar PPA prices increased by 7.2% quarter-on-quarter, driven by the end of a moratorium on new renewable energy projects with a capacity greater than 1MW in the province. Yet this was not enough to eliminate the decline in prices driven by the US states.

“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 modelling, at LevelTen Energy. “We don’t expect this window of opportunity to last indefinitely.”

“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,” added Mumford, suggesting that this stability may not last. “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.”

Mumford also argued that “smart buyers will act now,” suggesting that the stability of solar PPA prices has created an opportunity for those keen to buy electricity generated from solar sources. There is considerable interest in clean energy investments around the world – with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reporting that US$1.8 trillion was invested into the energy transition in 2023 – and the stabilisation of PPA prices could make energy trading a more attractive proposition for investors.

22 May 2024
London, UK
At the time of writing, Europe had had its most successful year in terms of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with a record 7.8GW of renewable energy contracts signed. As we gather in May 2024 for the third edition of the Renewable Energy Revenues Summit, the energy landscape continues to evolve rapidly, influenced by the beating drum of climate change, volatility around power prices and the need to decarbonise power procurement as well as generation.

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