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2024 ATB Approach and Methodology

The 2024 Electricity Annual Technology Baseline (ATB) presents the cost and performance of typical electricity generation plants in the United States. It represents electricity generation plants by either 1) reflecting the entire geographic range of the resource with a few points averaging similar characteristics or 2) providing examples to demonstrate a range associated with resource potential. Foundational to this averaging approach, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) uses high-resolution, location-specific resource data to represent site-specific capital investment and estimated annual energy production for all potential renewable energy plants in the United States.

For all technologies in the ATB except biopower, the ATB data and website include:

  • Base Year estimates for parameters that include primary cost and performance metrics:
  • Three scenarios for future technology innovation and their associated parameter values
  • Descriptions of the resource, cost and performance estimation methodology, and data sources.

Renewable technologies and Nuclear additionally include:

Nuclear data also include ramp rates.

For fossil (natural gas and coal) generation plants, the ATB data and website additionally include:

  • Operating range (expected availability; minimum emissions compliant load)
  • Full load design emissions rates for carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and mercury.

For biopower plants, the ATB:

  • Relies on Energy Information Administration (EIA) representation of future plant cost estimates through 2050 from the Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2023 (EIA, 2023)
  • Represents the average biopower feedstock price based on the U.S. Billion Ton Update study (DOE, 2011) through 2030
  • Holds the biopower feedstock price at 2030 levels through 2050.

Base Year (2022) Costs in the ATB

Base Year (2022) costs in the 2024 ATB are from the sources in the following table.

Sources of Base Year Costs

Land-based wind power plantsCAPEX associated with the four representative technologies are estimated using bottom-up engineering models for hypothetical wind plants installed in 2022 (Wiser and Bolinger, 2023) and (Eberle et al., 2024). The Base Year value for each wind speed class depends on the selected representative technology. The all-in OPEX (operating and maintenance [O&M]) cost for each representative technology is informed by recent literature (Liu and Garcia da Fonseca, 2021) and (Wiser et al., 2019). The Base Year cost is different for each representative technology because O&M costs are expected to vary by wind turbine rating, with projections showing lower fixed O&M costs as turbine rating increases. 
Offshore wind power plantsBase Year costs are estimated with a combination of NREL's bottom-up cost models for gigawatt-scale commercial fixed-bottom projects and demonstration-scale (<100-megawatt [MW]) floating projects, though we only present floating costs in 2030 and beyond when the first gigawatt-scale projects could feasibly be built in the United States. Specifically, the Renewable Energy Potential Model (reV) and NREL Wind Analysis Library (NRWAL) are used to assess offshore wind plant costs across U.S. waters as a function of site-specific parameters including wind resource, water depth, and distances to critical infrastructure (Maclaurin et al., 2019);(Nunemaker et al., 2023). Those site-specific cost estimates are informed by the Offshore Renewables Balance of System and Installation Tool (ORBIT) for CAPEX, the Windfarm Operations and Maintenance cost-Benefit Analysis Tool (WOMBAT) for OPEX, and the FLOw Redirection and Induction in Steady State (FLORIS) tool for American Electric Power (AEP) (Nunemaker et al., 2020);(Hammond and Cooperman, 2022);(National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 2021). ATB cost estimates are spatial averages presented in terms of wind classes by binning the sites on cost and hub-height wind speed.
Distributed wind power projectsCAPEX are estimated using bottom-up engineering models and empirical data for hypothetical wind projects installed in 2022 (Stehly et al., 2023). OPEX estimates are informed by historical data and are reported in (Stehly et al., 2023)
Utility, commercial, and residential photovoltaic (PV) plantsCAPEX for 2022 are based on bottom-up cost modeling and market data from (Ramasamy et al., 2023). O&M costs are based on modeled pricing for PV systems (Ramasamy et al., 2022).
Concentrating solar power (CSP) plantsCAPEX for 2022 are for a representative power tower with 10 hours of storage and a solar multiple of 2.4. This is based on recent assessment of the industry in 2022 and updated CSP systems costs, including a bottom-up CSP cost analysis for heliostat components, available in Version 2023.12.17 of the System Advisor Model (SAM(Turchi et al., 2019) (Kurup et al., 2022).
Geothermal plantsBottom-up cost modeling uses Geothermal Electricity Technology Evaluation Model (GETEM) and inputs from the GeoVision Business-as-Usual scenario (DOE, 2019)(Augustine et al., 2019). Updates to 2022 baseline cost assumptions are based on ongoing enhanced geothermal system (EGS) demonstration projects and industry stakeholder consultations (Pengju Xing et al., 2024)(Norbeck and Latimer, 2023).
Hydropower plantsNonpowered dam (NPD) data are based on a reduced-form model estimated using data from a 2020 cost analysis (Oladosu et al., 2021). New stream-reach development (NSD) data are retained from previous years and are based on the Hydropower Vision study (DOE, 2016), with bottom-up cost modeling from the Hydropower Baseline Cost Modeling report (O'Connor et al., 2015).
Utility-scale PV-plus-battery CAPEX assumptions for utility-scale PV-plus-battery are based on new bottom-up cost modeling and market data from (Ramasamy et al., 2023) and reflect a 100-megawatts alternating current (MWAC) utility-scale PV-plus-battery system comprising 134-megawatts direct current (MWDC) one-axis tracking PV coupled with 78-MWDC battery storage with 4-hour duration. O&M costs are based on modeled pricing and include a full battery replacement after 15 years of operation. When accounting for state-of-charge and round-trip efficiency constraints, the usable stored energy for the battery component is roughly half the inverter capacity, which is consistent with common relative battery sizing in recent and proposed utility-scale PV-plus-battery projects (Bolinger et al., 2023). Capacity factors and tax credits assume 75% of the energy used to charge the battery component is derived from the coupled PV (on an annual basis).
Utility-scale, commercial, and residential battery storage2022 costs for utility-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS) are based on a bottom-up cost model using the data and methodology for utility-scale BESS in (Ramasamy et al., 2023).
Pumped storage hydropower plants (PSH)Resource characterizations are from a national closed-loop PSH resource assessment documented by (Rosenlieb et al., 2022), and subsequent updates are described in "Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Supply Curves" (NREL). Capital costs are estimated using the NREL bottom-up PSH cost model (Cohen et al., 2023), and O&M costs are from (Mongird et al., 2020).
Natural gas and coalEstimates of performance and costs for available fossil-fueled electricity generating technologies are representative of current commercial offerings and/or projects that began commercial service within the past 10 years for both new plants and retrofits (Schmitt et al., 2022)(Buchheit et al., 2023)(Schmitt and Homsy, 2023).
NuclearCAPEX for 2022 are based on a compilation of historical and recent cost estimates for various advanced nuclear energy technologies as well as historical U.S. costs for nuclear plant construction. The cost estimates are technology agnostic, but distinctions between large and small reactors (often called small modular reactors [SMRs]) are made. O&M costs for large reactors are based on existing experience with U.S. nuclear operators. SMR O&M costs are based on a compilation of bottom-up historical datasets similar to the capital expenses. All information is based on (Abou-Jaoude et al., 2024).
BiopowerThese costs are based on the Annual Energy Outlook (EIA, 2023) reported costs. Because the projections in the Annual Energy Outlook typically begin 2 years after the ATB Base Year, costs for the missing years (including the Base Year) are backward-extrapolated from the Annual Energy Outlook projection.

Future Cost Projections

The ATB future projections are based primarily on expert analysis, bottom-up modeling, and literature on specific technology innovations, which are described in detail for each technology. The categories of innovations for each technology are shown in the following table. The innovations listed in the technology innovation table on each technology page, and summarized here, represent innovations assumed to drive most of the cost reductions in the ATB scenarios. These lists do not include all potential innovations, and they include only innovations that directly impact cost and performance.

Technology Innovations

Land-Based Wind
  • Site-specific diversification of wind turbine technology 
  • Manufacturing and design efficiencies
  • Improved installation, operation, and maintenance 
  • Adoption of advanced wind turbine controls
Offshore Wind
  • Learning-by-doing
  • Supply chain maturation and efficiencies
  • Turbine (and plant*) upsizing
  • Size-agnostic technology innovations

* Effects from plant economies of scale included only for floating offshore wind because the technology is nascent and the learning curve methodology captures cost reduction effects of the technology maturing over time with increasing deployment. We only present floating offshore wind cost estimates in 2030 and beyond when the first gigawatt-scale projects could feasibly come online in the United States. All operational floating capacity exists at pilot- and demonstration-scale projects only (<100 MW) (Equinor, 2023). Fixed-bottom cost estimates are reflective of gigawatt-scale commercial projects in all years.

Distributed Wind
  • Rotor, nacelle assembly
  • Tower
  • Specific power reduction
  • Tower erection innovations
  • Material efficient turbine foundations
  • Standardized zoning, permitting, interconnection, and incentives
  • Higher volume of turbine manufacturing leading to lower overhead charged per turbine
Solar Photovoltaics
  • Module efficiency
  • Inverter power electronics
  • Installation efficiencies
  • Energy yield gain
Concentrating Solar Power
  • Power block
  • Receiver
  • Thermal storage
  • Solar field
  • Learning-by-doing
  • Drilling advancements
  • EGS development
  • Multistage stimulation success
  • Well productivity/injectivity improvement
  • Learning-by-doing
  • Modularity
  • New materials
  • Automation/digitalization
  • New turbines, eco-friendly turbines
Utility-Scale PV-Plus-BatterySee the solar PV and battery storage rows above and below in this table.
Battery Storage
  • Significant market demand (across electricity, electric vehicle, and consumer electronics sectors)
  • Improvements in chemistry 
  • Supply chain development
Pumped Storage Hydropower
  • Modularity
  • New materials
  • Innovative closed-loop concepts
  • Eco-friendly pumps and turbines
Natural Gas and Coal
  • Improvements in Brayton and Rankine power cycles
  • Postcombustion carbon capture technologies with lower capture system energy demand
  • Advanced natural gas fuel cell systems
  • Advanced ultra-supercritical pulverized coal plants
  • Learning-by-doing
  • Modularity
  • Supply chain efficiency
  • Design standardization


The following references are specific to this page; for all references in this ATB, see References.

EIA. “Annual Energy Outlook 2023.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Energy Information Administration, March 2023.

DOE. “U.S. Billion-Ton Update: Biomass Supply for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry.” Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, August 2011.

Wiser, Ryan, and Mark Bolinger. “Land-Based Wind Market Report: 2023 Edition.” Technical. Market Report. U.S. Department of Energy, August 2023.

Eberle, Annika, Trieu Mai, Owen Roberts, Travis Williams, Pavlo Pinchuk, Anthony Lopez, Matthew Mowers, Joseph Mowers, Tyler Stehly, and Eric Lantz. “Incorporating Wind Turbine Choice in High-Resolution Geospatial Supply Curve and Capacity Expansion Models.” Technical. NREL, January 2024.

Liu, Daniel, and Leila Garcia da Fonseca. “2021 O&M Economics and Cost Data for Onshore Wind Power Markets.” Wood Mackenzie, May 2021.

Wiser, Ryan, Mark Bolinger, and Eric Lantz. “Assessing Wind Power Operating Costs in the United States: Results from a Survey of Wind Industry Experts.” Renewable Energy Focus 30, no. September 2019 (2019): 46–57.

Maclaurin, Galen, Nick Grue, Anthony Lopez, and Donna Heimiller. “The Renewable Energy Potential (ReV) Model: A Geospatial Platform for Technical Potential and Supply Curve Modeling.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, September 2019.

Nunemaker, Jacob, Grant Buster, Michael Rossol, Patrick Duffy, Matthew Shields, Philipp Beiter, and Aaron Smith. NREL Wind Analysis Library NRWAL. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 2023.

Nunemaker, Jake, Matt Shields, Hammond Robert, and Patrick Duffy. “ORBIT: Offshore Renewables Balance-of-System and Installation Tool.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2020.

Hammond, Rob, and Aubryn Cooperman. “Windfarm Operations and Maintenance Cost-Benefit Analysis Tool (WOMBAT).” Technical Report. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 2022.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). “FLORIS. Version 3.4,” 2021.

Stehly, Tyler, Patrick Duffy, and Daniel Mulas Hernando. “2022 Cost of Wind Energy Review.” December 2023.

Ramasamy, Vignesh, Jarett Zuboy, Michael Woodhouse, Eric O’Shaughnessy, David Feldman, Jal Desai, Andy Walker, Robert Margolis, and Paul Basore. “U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System and Energy Storage Cost Benchmarks, With Minimum Sustainable Price Analysis: Q1 2023.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2023.

Ramasamy, Vignesh, Jarett Zuboy, Eric O’Shaughnessy, David Feldman, Jal Desai, Michael Woodhouse, Paul Basore, and Robert Margolis. “U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System and Energy Storage Cost Benchmarks, With Minimum Sustainable Price Analysis: Q1 2022.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2022.

Turchi, Craig, Matthew Boyd, Devon Kesseli, Parthiv Kurup, Mark Mehos, Ty Neises, Prashant Sharan, Michael Wagner, and Timothy Wendelin. “CSP Systems Analysis: Final Project Report.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, May 2019.

Kurup, Parthiv, Sertac Akar, Stephen Glynn, Chad Augustine, and Patrick Davenport. “Cost Update: Commercial and Advanced Heliostat Collectors.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2022.

DOE. “GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy, May 2019.

Augustine, Chad, Jonathan Ho, and Nate Blair. “GeoVision Analysis Supporting Task Force Report: Electric Sector Potential to Penetration.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2019.

Pengju Xing, Kevin England, Joseph Moore, Robert Podgorney, and John McLennan. “Analysis of Circulation Tests and Well Connections at Utah FORGE.” In Proceedings, 49th  Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering. Stanford University, Stanford, California, 2024.

Norbeck, Jack Hunter, and Timothy Latimer. “Commercial-Scale Demonstration of a First-of-a-Kind Enhanced Geothermal System,” July 18, 2023.

Oladosu, Gbadebo, Lindsay George, and Jeremy Wells. “2020 Cost Analysis of Hydropower Options at Non-Powered Dams.” Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2021.

DOE. “Hydropower Vision: A New Chapter for America’s Renewable Electricity Source.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy, 2016.

O’Connor, Patrick W., Scott T. DeNeale, Dol Raj Chalise, Emma Centurion, and Abigail Maloof. “Hydropower Baseline Cost Modeling, Version 2.” Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2015.

Bolinger, Mark, Will Gorman, and Joseph Rand. “Hybrid Power Plants: Status of Operating and Proposed Plants, 2023 Edition.” Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, August 10, 2023.

Rosenlieb, Evan, Donna Heimiller, and Stuart Cohen. “Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Resource Assessment for the United States.” Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2022.

Cohen, Stuart, Vignesh Ramasamy, and Danny Inman. “A Component-Level Bottom-Up Cost Model for Pumped Storage Hydropower.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO (United States), September 19, 2023.

Mongird, Kendall, Vilayanur Viswanathan, Jan Alam, Charlie Vartanian, Vincent Sprenkle, and Richard Baxter. “2020 Grid Energy Storage Technology Cost and Performance Assessment.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy, December 2020.

Schmitt, Tommy, Sarah Leptinsky, Marc Turner, Alex Zoelle, Chuck White, Sydney Hughes, Sally Homsy, et al. “Cost And Performance Baseline for Fossil Energy Plants Volume 1: Bituminous Coal and Natural Gas to Electricity.” Pittsburgh, PA: National Energy Technology Laboratory, October 14, 2022.

Buchheit, Kyle L., Alex Zoelle, Eric Lewis, Marc Turner, Tommy Schmitt, Norma Kuehn, Sally Homsy, et al. “Eliminating the Derate of Carbon Capture Retrofits - Revision 2.” National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA, Morgantown, WV, and Albany, OR (United States), March 31, 2023.

Schmitt, Tommy, and Sally Homsy. “Cost and Performance of Retrofitting NGCC Units for Carbon Capture – Revision 3.” National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA, Morgantown, WV, and Albany, OR (United States), March 17, 2023.

Abou-Jaoude, Abdalla, Levi Larsen, Nahuel Guaita, Ishita Trivedi, Frederick Josek, Christopher Lohse, Edward Hoffman, Nicolas Stauff, Koroush Shirvan, and Adam Stein. “Meta-Analysis of Advanced Nuclear Reactor Cost Estimations.” Idaho National Laboratory, June 2024.

Equinor. “The World’s Largest Floating Offshore Wind Farm Officially Opened.”, August 23, 2023.

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