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The Energy Analysis at NREL 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.

May 2015


NREL Recognized for Pioneering Work at Energy Open Data Roundtable


A photo of three people, each holding an award certificate.

NREL's Jon Weers (left) and Debbie Brodt-Giles (center), along with DOE's Kristen Honey were among the 16 recipients of Energy Innovation Awards at a networking breakfast that preceded the roundtable.

Today's big data revolution is transforming the energy sector. Since 2013, our government has been releasing treasure troves of open data with positive impact for the clean energy economy, entrepreneurs, companies of all sizes, and ultimately our country.

To further unlock the value of its data for public good, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) co-sponsored its first-ever Energy Open Data Roundtable with the Center for Open Data Enterprise on April 29. Held at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Energy Roundtable convened approximately 60 energy data leaders, including participants from the White House, other federal agencies, national laboratories, non-profit organizations, and private industry. Industry participants were diverse, ranging from Fortune 500 companies with commitments to the Climate Data Initiative, to a local incubator for early-stage, energy start-ups.

Learn more: http://energy.gov/eere/articles/first-ever-energy-open-data-roundtable-catalyzes-value-big-data-revolution-energy


NREL Supports China PV Investment and Financing Alliance to Open Capital for Solar Deployment


An image of puzzle pieces hooked together, one piece has a photovoltaic module and the other has Ben Franklin's image on the $100 bill.

NREL and the China PV Investment and Finance Alliance (CPVFA) have formed a collaboration with the goal of opening wide-scale and diverse sources of investment for solar photovoltaic (PV) asset development in China. NREL is advising CPVFA based on the work of the NREL-convened Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group. NREL will advise CPVFA in areas such as documentation standardization, data availability, and consistency in asset deployment and operations and maintenance. "The collaboration between the United States and China is very much a two-way street," said NREL analyst Michael Mendelsohn, who leads the SAPC initiative. "Our counterparts in China will be able to provide unique insights on asset development and grid integration. They are also very motivated to open investment through pooled financial vehicles and reduced transaction costs. NREL and the SAPC working group, which shares similar goals, can offer expertise in this area."


NREL Seeks Federal and Local Partners for Climate Change Preparedness Pilot


As part of President Obama's State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, NREL and the State of Colorado were selected to lead one of two "Preparedness Pilot" programs to help advance climate change preparedness planning on the ground and create models for other communities and agencies to follow. The pilots aim to bring together federal agencies and local communities to assess and plan for region-specific vulnerabilities and interdependencies associated with the impacts of climate change. NREL is leading the effort for the State of Colorado and is currently seeking federal and local partners within the state to participate in the pilot. NREL is partnering with the State of Colorado on this initiative to avoid duplication of efforts and leverage existing resources.

If you know of any federal facilities or local city governments that would be interested in actively participating in the NREL and State of Colorado Preparedness Pilot, or would like additional information, please contact Eliza Hotchkiss by May 29.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News


Estimating Rooftop Suitability for PV: A Review of Methods, Patents, and Validation Techniques was cited by Forbes in "Solar Crowdfunding: In Need Of A Kickstart."

NREL's JEDI model was mentioned in a recent press release.

A recent NREL report and recent SAPC Best Practices publications were mentioned in PV Magazine's article "NREL calls for international quality standards in PV module manufacturing." The SAPC Best Practices reports were also mentioned in Solar Today.

NREL's work in Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization is the subject of a CNG Solar Engineering article, "Lifetime greenhouse emissions of solar PV systems vs. coal-powered systems."

An April Power Source article cites Status and Trends in the U.S. Voluntary Green Power Market (2013 Data).

Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation was mentioned in PV Tech, Energy Manager Today, Solar Industry Mag, Recharge News, and PV Magazine.

Travis Lowder spoke at the Northern Colorado Renewable Energy Society on Tuesday, April 21 in Fort Collins, giving an economic update on the residential solar PV market and trends with a focus on the own-versus-lease decision for residential systems.

Environment News Service mentioned an NREL/MIT journal article, "Assessing the drivers of regional trends in solar photovoltaic manufacturing."


Recent Publications


Journal Article: Maturation of biomass-to-biofuels conversion technology pathways for rapid expansion of biofuels production: a system dynamics perspective
Authors: Laura Vimmerstedt and Brian Bush, NREL; Dave D. Hsu, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP; Daniel Inman, NREL; Steve Peterson, Lexidyne LLC

This study and the subject Biomass Scenario Model (BSM), which represents biomass-to-biofuels conversion as a set of technology pathways, address bioenergy modeling analytic needs that have been identified in recent literature reviews. Simulations indicate that, in terms of expanding biofuels production, investments are most effective through learning-by-doing when they are coordinated with respect to timing, pathway, and target sector within the industry.


Journal Article: A methodology for estimating the capacity value of demand response
Authors: Sheila Nolan, Electricity Research Centre (ERC); Mark O'Malley, IEEE member, Marissa Hummon, NREL; Sila Kiliccote, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Ookie Ma, DOE

This paper presents a preliminary methodology for estimating the capacity value of demand response; it incorporates demand response availability profiles and applies a response duration constraint. The results emphasize the sensitivity of the capacity value of demand response to the energy limitation of the resource, the need to target different load types in different systems, and the relatively small size of the demand response resources examined in relation to overall system size.


Conference Paper: Exploring the Potential Business Case for Synergies Between Natural Gas and Renewable Energy (Preprint)
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Owen Zinaman, Jeff Logan, and Doug Arent

This paper examines revenue opportunities that emerge from systems-level perspectives in 'bulk energy' (large-scale electricity and natural gas production, transmission, and trade) and four 'distribution edge' subsectors: industrial, residential, commercial, and transportation end uses.


Presentation: A Bottom-up Cost Analysis of a High Concentration PV Module
Authors: Kelsey Horowitz and Mike Woodhouse, NREL; Greg Smestad, Sol Ideas Technology Development; Hohyun Lee, University of Santa Clara

The authors present a bottom-up model of III-V multi-junction cells in addition to a high concentration PV (HCPV) module, and find that reducing cell costs and increasing module efficiency offer the promising pathways for future cost reductions. These could be reduced via an increase in manufacturing scale, substrate reuse, and improved manufacturing yields. The authors also identify several other significant drivers of HCPV module costs—including the Fresnel lens primary optic, module housing, thermal management, and the receiver board—that could potentially be lowered by employing innovative module designs.


Presentation: Biomass Scenario Model
Author: Brian Bush

This presentation, given at the BETO Analysis Platform Review, discusses the BSM, which uses system-dynamics simulation to model dynamic interactions across the supply chain. Generally, the model shows that policies which are coordinated across the whole supply chain have significant impact in fostering the growth of the biofuels industry, and that favorable conditions might promote the production of tens of billions of gallons of biofuels.


Presentation: NREL Activities to Open Capital Market Investment and Bank Lending for Solar Deployment
Authors: Mike Mendelsohn, NREL; John Joshi, Capital Fusion Partners

This presentation was a briefing for White House personnel and members of various agencies (HUD, USDA, etc.) on the activities of the SAPC working group and the opportunity to apply SAPC-related efficiencies to the federal contracting process.


NREL Report: Transformative Reduction of Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Opportunities for Change in Technologies and Systems
Authors: Laura Vimmerstedt, Austin Brown, Emily Newes, Tony Markel, Alex Schroeder, and Yimin Zhang, NREL; Peter Chipman and Shawn Johnson, DOT

This report summarizes findings from a partnership with the Department of Transportation on the potential of emerging emissions-reducing technologies and strategies, including vehicle electrification through plug-in or fuel cell vehicles, connected and automated vehicles, biofuel pathways, vehicle efficiency, and transportation demand reduction. Key findings from a Clean Transportation Sector Initiative workshop, exploring the potential of these and other emerging technologies and strategies, are incorporated into this report.


NREL Report: Implications of Model Structure and Detail for Utility Planning: Scenario Case Studies Using the Resource Planning Model
Authors: Trieu Mai, Clayton Barrows, Anthony Lopez, Elaine Hale, Mark Dyson, and Kelly Eurek

In this report, the authors analyze the impacts of model configuration and detail on resource selection decisions of capacity expansion models; they also compare computation time between configurations to evaluate tradeoffs between computational burden and model accuracy. They find that certain advanced dispatch representations (e.g., DC optimal power flow) can have dramatic adverse effects on computation time, and that aspects of investment decisions and model representations, such as spur lines for new renewable capacity, can influence model outcomes—particularly in the renewable technology and location chosen by the model.


NREL Report: Pathways to Decarbonization: Natural Gas and Renewable Energy—Lessons Learned from Energy System Stakeholders
Authors: Jacquelyn Pless, Doug Arent, Jeff Logan, Jaquelin Cochran, Owen Zinaman, and Camila Stark

This report captures key insights from the "Synergies of Natural Gas and Renewable Energy: 360 Degrees of Opportunity" workshop; it also includes supporting economic valuation analyses conducted by JISEA researchers that quantify the value proposition of investing in NG and RE together as complements.


Poster: Exploration Case Studies on OpenEI
Author: Kate Young

This poster details the development of a database of geothermal case studies for future exploration efforts in new areas; the goal is to develop a template for geothermal case studies in a crowd-sourced platform to allow contributions from the entire geothermal community, broken down into queriable properties.


Poster: Assessment of New Approaches in Geothermal Exploration Decision Making
Author: Kate Young

This poster describes the findings in a related paper as well as information gleaned from the project. The aim is to develop a methodology for more objective geothermal decision making, including more solid go/no-go decisions at specific points in the process, and reduce subjectivity and increase reproducibility in the future.


Poster: Geothermal NEPA Database on OpenEI
Authors: Kate Young and Aaron Levine

This poster describes how and why NREL developed the Geothermal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Database. As information and capabilities of the database expand, developers and agencies can save time on new NEPA reports by accessing a single location to research related activities, their potential impacts, and previously proposed and imposed mitigation measures.


Fact Sheet: South Africa and the 21st Century Power Partnership

This fact sheet discusses the 21CPP South Africa Programme and its goal, which is to support South Africa's power system transformation by accelerating the transition to a reliable, financially robust, and low-carbon power system.


Fact Sheet: India and the 21st Century Power Partnership

This fact sheet describes the 21CPP efforts in India. A deepening understanding of policy regimes that support and accelerate the transition to clean, smart, efficient, affordable, and reliable electricity will help inform decisions, and Indian contributions to international knowledge about the legal, regulatory, and business environment will be an integral component of the Power Partnership program.


Fact Sheet: Public-Private Leadership Forum (PPLF)

This fact sheet discusses the functions of the PPLF, which convenes stakeholders from across the power sector, spanning electricity supply, delivery, and end-use, and plays a key role in guiding the strategic direction of the Power Partnership. PPLF members also support the implementation of activities set out in the Power Partnership Program of Work.


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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.