TABLE 3-7 Comparative Costs of Electricity from Wind, Photovoltaic, and Biomass Sources (cents/kWh)

Source

1990

2000

2010

Wind

8-10

4

3-4

Photovoltaic

37-53

11-32

9-16

Biomass

5-9

5-6

4-5

 

Source: Preston (1994).

they are not expected to become dominant sources of bulk power generation during the periods addressed in this study.

COAL USE FOR LIQUID AND GASEOUS FUELS

While electric power generation is expected to be the principal use of coal in the near- to mid-term periods, liquid and gaseous fuels derived from coal have the potential to compete with natural gasand petroleum-based fuels in the mid and long-term. The outlook for coal-derived liquid and gaseous fuels is discussed in Chapter 6.

Resource Base for Petroleum and Bitumen7

Liquid hydrocarbon resources can be classified on the basis of viscosity as conventional petroleum, heavy oil, and tar (or bitumen).8 Because of its low viscosity, petroleum tends to accumulate in large pools with natural gas and is relatively cheap to produce, with high resource recovery. In general, it contains less sulfur than the heavier hydrocarbons and can be refined to specification fuels more easily and cheaply than heavy oils and tars. While large resources of heavy oils and tars have been found, current production is restricted by the higher production and refining costs. Estimates of world and U.S. petroleum resources are shown in Table 3-8.

Petroleum finding and production costs for major producers are currently well below the international price, which includes profit taken by producing countries and by private investors, and is the result of an extremely complex combination of economic and political factors. As low-cost resources are depleted and production costs rise, the trading cost can be expected to rise.

7  

The resource base for natural gas was discussed above in the context of fuels for power generation.

8  

Defining viscosities are as follows: conventional petroleum, less than 100 centipoise (cp); heavy oil, 100 to 10,000 cp; tar or bitumen, greater than 10,000 cp.



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