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The Decision Insight and Market Impacts newsletter highlights the lab's analysts and analysis activities in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are having an impact on U.S. energy goals. The newsletter features recent publications and websites, updates to our models and tools, and staff activities. You can subscribe to receive the newsletter monthly by email.

March 2016

NREL is the nation's leader in clean energy technologies, practices, and strategies. And while research and development of innovative technologies begin in NREL's state-of-the-art facilities, our efforts toward a clean energy future don't stop there.

NREL's analysis and market expertise informs policy and drives project development as energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies move from innovation to the global marketplace.

A man in a harness and wearing a hardhat repairing a small wind turbine.
Developing Countries Demonstrate Impacts of Low Emission Development Strategies

A photo landscape stretching across the frame above an array of solar panels.
Cities-LEAP Energy Profile Tool Includes Energy Data on More than 23,400 U.S. Cities

A photo of a wind turbine rising above a mountain range.
Resource Maps for Taller Towers Reveal New Areas for Wind Project Development

Figure ES-1 showing the cumulative installed renewable capacity by scenario from the Impacts of Federal Tax Credit Extensions on Renewable Deployment and Power Sector Emissions report.
March 18: Trieu Mai discusses impacts of renewable energy federal tax credit extensions

A photo landscape stretching across the frame above an array of solar panels.
See why 10,000+ people are using the National Solar Radiation Database for their analysis

View data
A photo of a wind turbine rising above a mountain range.
See how NREL is redefining what's possible for renewable energy on the grid

Watch video

Feature News

196 Countries Approve Historic Climate Change Agreement to Drastically Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. . . and NREL was there.

A photo of panel experts at COP21 adddressing questions from the floor.

When 196 nations gathered in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) and forged a global commitment to limit the world's rise in average temperature to well below 2°C by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, NREL was there. With major world leaders in attendance at COP21—including President Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi—Doug Arent, Andrea Watson, and Ron Benioff, presented NREL activities, participated in panels, and established a continuing role in helping countries develop achievable Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), convert them into action, and increase the level of ambition over the next four years.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and the Swedish Minister of Energy identified the Clean Energy Ministerial as a primary vehicle to execute the COP21 agreements and announced the scale up of the NREL-led Clean Energy Solutions Center and Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center.

NREL and the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) act as the operating agent for the 21st Century Power Partnership (21CPP) initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial, a global forum to accelerate the transition to clean, efficient, reliable and cost effective power systems. 21CCP works with governments at all levels to establish data-driven methodologies to support the clean energy visions of countries and municipalities. JISEA Executive Director Arent participated in the COP21 event by chairing a panel discussion on the importance of good data to setting, monitoring, and achieving climate goals.

A photo of Andrea Watson explaining features on a map of the renewable resources in the Philippines found in the Wind Prospector.

Watson, NREL's project leader for the Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) program sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State, demonstrated NREL's Wind Prospector and the Geospatial Toolkit to government officials from all over the world. Through EC-LEDS, NREL works with more than 20 partner countries to help them transition to low emission and sustainable economic development strategies.

Watson also spoke as a panelist on behalf of NREL's involvement in the newly formed Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance. The Alliance is looking for solutions to reduce carbon emissions from desalination as local demand for drinking ware continues to grow.

Benioff presented at several meetings of the LEDS Global Partnership (LEDS-GP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, UK government, European Commission, and others. As Secretariat for the LEDS Global Partnership, NREL works to advance climate-resilient low emission development through coordination, information exchange, and cooperation among programs and countries working to advance low emissions growth.

Renewable Portfolio Standards Produced Significant Benefits while Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2013

A cover image of the Hydro Review magazine.

Closer to home, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are getting a lot of attention. A recent study by NREL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL) estimates $2.2 billion in benefits came from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and another $5.2 billion came from reductions in other forms of air pollution for U.S. states operating under state RPS in 2013. A Retrospective Analysis of the Benefits and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards also demonstrates that withdrawals and water consumption by fossil-fueled plants were reduced by 830 billion gallons and 27 billion gallons, respectively, in 2013. In a recent news release, Jenny Heeter, an NREL co-author, was quoted saying, "Our goal was to estimate the magnitude of RPS benefits and impacts at a national-level, using established, consistent methodologies, while recognizing that states could perform their own more-detailed assessments."

  • Several regions in the United States have begun to develop policies and regulations for deployment of energy storage technologies. A new NREL study explores several aspects of grid operations in California and the Western Interconnection and found that an energy storage portfolio can reduce curtailment and system-wide production costs for both 33% and 40% renewable portfolio standard scenarios. Read more.
  • Power system operators must maintain balance between electricity supply and demand. A video produced by NREL for Greening the Grid illustrates renewable energy integration through balancing area cooperation. Greening the Grid provides technical assistance to energy system planners, regulators, and grid operators to overcome challenges associated with integrating variable renewable energy into the grid. View the video.
  • Renewable electricity standards (RES) are critical in driving global renewable energy market growth and investment. A new policy brief provides an introduction to key RES design elements, lessons learned from country experience, and resources to support more detailed and country-specific RES policy design. Read more.
  • Can renewable energy save the Salton Sea? That's what researchers set out to answer when Tetra Tech retained by the Salton Sea Authority, turned to NREL to conduct a comprehensive analysis to evaluate the potential for various renewable energy technologies to financially contribute to the restoration of a dying lake. Geothermal, solar photovoltaics, and concentrating solar power were the clear winners. Read more.
  • Feed-in tariffs (FITs), along with renewable electricity standards, are one of the most widely adopted renewable energy support policies around the world. FITs are designed to increase deployment of renewable energy technologies by offering long-term purchase agreements for electricity generation at a specific price per kilowatt-hour. A new technical report offers a primer on key FIT design elements and good practices. Read more.
  • With a rigorous foundation in geospatial data and statistical analysis, NREL examines the technical potential of PV systems deployed on U.S. rooftops and estimates how much energy could be generated by installing PV on all suitable roof area. Read more.
  • The newly launched Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center, an expansion of the Clean Energy Solutions Center, helps governments at all levels identify appropriate finance mechanisms and design and implement policies to reduce risk and encourage private sector investment in clean energy. Read more.
  • In Analysis of Modeling Assumptions, NREL authors analyze the impact of modeling assumptions in renewable integration studies, including the optimization method and temporal resolution of the dispatch stage used. Read more.
  • American Indian land comprises approximately 2% of the total U.S. land base, representing an estimated 5% of the total U.S. renewable energy generation potential. A new U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs website provides information to assist American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages with energy development, capacity building, energy cost reduction, and electrification of Indian lands and homes. Visit website.
  • California can achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 levels in the electric sector by 2030 under several scenarios and assumptions, according to the Low Carbon Grid Study: Analysis of a 50% Emission Reduction in California. The report evaluates electric sector impacts in terms of several key operational and economic metrics. Read more.
  • Estimating Renewable Energy Economic Potential in the United States: Methodology and Initial Results describes a geospatial analysis method to estimate the economic potential of several renewable resources for electricity generation in the United States and provides results of an assessment conducted on more than 150,000 technology-specific sites in the continental United States. Read more.
  • Impacts of Federal Tax Credit Extensions offers new analysis regarding the potential impact of recently extended federal tax credits on the deployment of renewable generation technologies and related U.S. electric sector CO2 emissions. On Friday, March 18, the Clean Energy States Alliance is hosting a webinar with lead author Trieu Mai to discuss the report's findings. Read more.

For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website. You can also subscribe to the Energy Analysis at NREL newsletter using our simple online form.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aims to provide credible, objective data and insights that inform policy and investment decisions as energy efficient and renewable energy technologies advance from concept to commercial application. NREL analysis encompasses a broad range of scientific research and reporting activity in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), NREL programs and initiatives, and the analysis community.