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Land Use by System Technology

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The table below shows a range of system sizes for each technology and is intended to be used for a high level estimation of initial system capacity. Actual size may vary. The information was compiled by performing a literature search, using an NREL database with data from actual systems in the field, and interviewing NREL experts. Default system size values from NREL tools such as Renewable Energy Optimization (REopt) and In My Back Yard (IMBY) were also used. The mean system size was calculated from the average and the high/low data, as was the +/- 1 standard deviation range.

Use the tabs below to navigate the charts. The LCOE tab provides a simple calculator for both utility-scale and DG technologies that compares the combination of capital costs, O&M, performance, and fuel costs.

If you are seeking utility-scale technology cost and performance estimates, please visit the Transparent Cost Database website for NREL's information regarding vehicles, biofuels, and electricity generation.

Capital Cost
(September 2013 Update)
Operations & Maintenance
(September 2013 Update)
Utility-Scale Capacity Factors Useful Life Land Use by System Technology LCOE Calculator
Land Use
Technology Type Size
(acres / MW)
Size Std. Dev.
(acres / MW)
Photovoltaics <10 kW 3.2 2.2
Photovoltaics 10 – 100 kW 5.5 0.7
Photovoltaics 100 – 1,000 kW 5.5 0.7
Photovoltaics 1 – 10 MW 6.1 1.7
Wind <10 kW 30 n/a
Wind 10 – 100 kW 30 n/a
Wind 100- 1000 kW 30 n/a
Wind 1 – 10 MW 44.7 25.0
Biomass Combustion Combined Heat & Power 3.5 1.9
Technology Type Size
(Btu/ft2/ day)
Size Std. Dev.
(Btu/ft2/ day)
Solar Water Heat, flat plate & evacuated tube 774 320
Solar Water Heat, plastic collector n/a n/a
Solar Vent Preheat n/a n/a
Size
(acres /MW)
Size Std. Dev.
(acres /MW)
Biomass Wood Heat 0.3 0.3
Technology Type Size
(Btu/ft2/ day)
Size Std. Dev.
(Btu/ft2/ day)
Ground Source Heat Pump n/a n/a