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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.

July 2015

New Analysis Center Examines Manufacture of Clean Energy Technologies

The Energy Department's Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC), operated by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) and based at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, released its first research product in late June. Automotive Lithium-ion Battery Supply Chain and U.S. Competitiveness Considerations shows that with increasing demand for electric and hybrid electric vehicles and U.S. vehicle manufacturers' proximity to customers, there is opportunity for the United States to compete globally in the automotive lithium-ion battery (LIB) market. CEMAC works with industry and academia to deliver credible, timely, reliable analyses of clean energy technology supply chains, global trade flows, and other factors that drive manufacturing strategy. CEMAC develops innovative models and tools and publishes high-impact results that support decision makers' efforts to promote economic growth and the transition to a clean energy economy.

A close-up photo of a drill throwing out spark.

NREL's Continuum Magazine Spotlights Analysis

A photo of a man in hip waders knee deep in a lake holding a water-testing device.

NREL's Continuum magazine highlights the work of analysts like Jordan Macknick, shown here, who are helping illuminate pathways to a "water smart" future.

NREL analysis performs a vital role of ensuring that innovations developed in the lab fit the needs of the energy consumer and marketplace. The lab's Continuum magazine, which is available online now, spotlights NREL analysis capabilities and how they help the lab connect the dots between energy, economy, environment, and security. Articles cover innovative modeling that backs the forthcoming Eastern Renewable Generation Integration Study, work illuminating the energy-water nexus, the new Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC), and projects in finance, transportation, natural gas, and the international arena. In a video feature, CEMAC technical director Margaret Mann explains CEMAC's mission and why she sees manufacturing analysis as an exciting and important new field of study.


NREL Analysis, Tools Help Inform Quadrennial Energy Review

A blue graphic with silhouetted power plant.

A January 2014 Presidential Memorandum established the first-ever Quadrennial Energy Review (QER). The first installment of the QER was released by the Energy Department in May and focuses on energy transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure. The QER Task Force, led by DOE's Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis, commissioned an extensive suite of analyses used to support the findings and recommendations within the QER. NREL and the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) conducted targeted analyses on a variety of topic areas, including employment and workforce, grid integration, and methane emissions. The full QER installment cites these analyses as well as other NREL reports and tools such as the Renewable Energy Deployment System model (ReEDS), the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase II, Renewable Electricity Futures Study, and more. For a full list of QER analysis, visit the QER Document Library.

SAM Reveals Updates in its 2015.6.30 Release

A new version of the System Advisor Model (SAM), a performance and financial model used to inform renewable energy industry decision making, is now available. SAM 2015.6.30 introduces new models including PV with battery energy storage (including simulation of the whole system lifetime); third-party lease or PPA financing for distributed systems; and a simple LCOE calculator based on a fixed charge rate.

For more information about this new version of SAM, see

NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News

HOMER was discussed in Electrical Contractor's article, "Take A Load Off: Fewer Defectors, More Challenges."

Parthiv Kurup was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article.

EERE's SunShot Catalyst team, which includes Michael Contreras, Ammar Qusaibaty, Craig Connelly, Stephanie Johnson, Bosco So, Michael Goldstone, Jamie Nolan, Debbie Brodt-Giles, Shubha Bansal, Victor Kane, and Elaine Ulrich took the Grand Prize in Innovation Management for 2015 as awarded by the International Society for Professional Innovation Management. The SunShot Catalyst program scored highest amongst an esteemed field of organizations. Developed and implemented in record time, the program accelerated innovation and captured the minds of new innovators, including women- and minority-owned businesses, and focused their attention on challenges in solar energy.

The Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC) and its first report were the subject of an EV News article titled "Energy Department Evaluates Opportunities in Electric Vehicle Battery Market" and a Green Car Reports article titled "U.S. Electric-Car Battery Industry Could Grow If Supply Base Matures."

Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation was cited in a Bloomberg Business article, a Forbes article, and a Renewable Energy World article.

Jaquelin Cochran and Sam Booth were quoted in an SNL Financial article titled "Growing energy demand in Asia presents opportunities, challenges for renewables."

David Feldman was one of the speakers for a webinar on June 18th titled "Shared Solar Continues to Trend: Market Update and Implementation Questions."

A recent mapathon hosted at the White House used OpenEI for attendees to contribute in real-time.

According to Google Analytics as of June 23, The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 3 (WWSIS-3) - Frequency Response and Transient Stability has been downloaded from NREL's website 473 times since it was published. In the same timeframe, the main WWSIS page on NREL's Transmission Grid Integration website has had 5,207 page views. Furthermore, an article about the report was published in POWER Engineering. The surge in interest could be linked to a presentation of the study in May at the WINDPOWER 2015 conference in Orlando, Florida, and coverage of the presentation in North American WINDPOWER.

Recent Publications

Journal Article: A review of water and greenhouse gas impacts of unconventional natural gas development in the United States
Authors: Doug Arent, Jeff Logan, and Jordan Macknick, JISEA; William Boyd, University of Colorado - Boulder; Kenneth Medlock III, Rice University; Francis O'Sullivan, MIT; Jae Edmonds and Leon Clarke, PNNL; Hillard Huntington, Standford University; Garvin Heath and Patricia Statwick, JISEA; Morgan Bazilian, Columbia University

The authors review recent developments in the production and use of unconventional natural gas in the United States, focusing specifically on water management and greenhouse gas emission implications. If unconventional natural gas in the United States is produced responsibly, transported and distributed with little leakage, and incorporated into integrated energy systems that are designed for future resiliency, it could play an important role in realizing a more sustainable energy future.

Journal Article: An Assessment of the Net Value of CSP Systems Integrated with Thermal Energy Storage
Authors: Mark Mehos, Jennie Jorgenson, Paul Denholm, and Craig Turchi

The authors evaluate the operational and capacity value—or total system value—for multiple concentrating solar power (CSP) plant configurations under an assumed 33% renewable penetration scenario in California. Results indicate a positive net value for a variety of scenarios, depending on technology assumptions and assumed values for natural gas price and tax incentives.

Journal Article: Integrated life-cycle assessment of electricity-supply scenarios confirms global environmental benefit of low-carbon technologies
Authors: Edgar Hertwich, Thomas Gibon, Evert A. Bouman, and Anders Arvesen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Sangwon Suh, University of California; Garvin Heath, NREL; Joseph Bergesen, University of California; Andrea Ramirez, Utrecht University; Mabel Vega, Concepción Chile; Lei Shi, Tsinghua University

To assess the tradeoffs of increased up-front emissions and reduced operational emissions, the authors present, to their knowledge, the first global, integrated life cycle assessment (LCA) of long-term, wide-scale implementation of electricity generation from renewable sources (i.e., photovoltaic and solar thermal, wind, and hydropower) and of carbon dioxide capture and storage for fossil power generation. In this article, the authors compare emissions causing particulate matter exposure, freshwater ecotoxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and climate change for the climate-change-mitigation (BLUE Map) and business-as-usual (Baseline) scenarios of the International Energy Agency up to 2050.

Journal Article: Wind Resource Quality Affected by High Levels of Renewables
Authors: Victor Diakov

This article uses load matching techniques to quantify the effect of curtailments on individual generators' performance using the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS) database. The amount of wind resources needed to achieve a high level of renewables is linked to the incremental capacity factor of the resource.

Presentation: Review of the dWindDS Model Initial Results
Authors: Ian Baring-Gould, Michael Gleason, Robert Preus, and Ben Sigrin

This presentation discusses the dWindDS model, which simulates consumer purchase decisions based on economics, consumer behavior, and high-resolution wind data.

Presentation: Ramping effect on forecast use: Integrated Ramping as a Mitigation Strategy
Authors: Victor Diakov, Clayton Barrows, Greg Brinkman, Aaron Bloom, and Paul Denholm

The authors presented integrated ramping as a straightforward method to improve the use of load and net-load forecasts, offering that it's free, it improves scheduling, and it reduces variability.

NREL Report: Controlling Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Sector: A Review of Federal & State Regulatory Frameworks Governing Production, Gathering, Processing, Transmission, and Distribution
Authors: Elizabeth Paranhos and Tracy G. Kozak, Energy Innovation Partners; William Boyd, Energy Innovation Partners and University of Colorado - Boulder; James Bradbury, DOE Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis; Dan Steinberg, NREL; Doug Arent, JISEA

This report provides a summary of the regulatory frameworks governing natural gas supply chain infrastructure siting, construction, operation, and maintenance. It addresses all onshore facilities that contribute to methane emissions from the natural gas sector, identifying the incentives under current regulatory frameworks to invest in measures to reduce leakage as well as the barriers facing investment in infrastructure improvement to reduce leakage.

NREL Report: Grid Integration and the Carrying Capacity of the U.S. Grid to Incorporate Variable Renewable Energy
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Paul Denholm, Bethany Speer, and Mackay Miller

This paper summarizes the challenges to integrating increasing amounts of variable RE and identifies emerging practices in power system planning and operation that can facilitate ability to respond to change in demand and supply. Through strategic investments in both demand- and supply-side sources of flexibility, it is possible to achieve even higher penetration levels.

NREL Report: Modeling the Integrated Expansion of the Canadian and U.S. Power Sectors with the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS)
Authors: Owen Zinaman, Eduardo Ibanez, Donna Heimiller, Kelly Eurek, and Trieu Mai

Through an illustrative sensitivity analysis, the authors demonstrate a new and robust representation of the combined capacity expansion of the U.S. and Canadian electric sectors within the NREL Regional Energy Development System (ReEDS) model. Results show a significant increase in wind generation in both the United States and Canada with a gradual retirement of coal and nuclear energy, as well as large investments in transmission capacity across the border, which almost doubles the existing capacity of transmission lines, and the exchange of energy appears to be regionally-driven.

NREL Report: Relevant Studies for NERC's Analysis of EPA's Clean Power Plan 111(d) Compliance
Authors: Mark Ahlstrom, WindLogics; Charlie Smith, Utility Variable Generation Integration Group; Richard Piwko and Debra Lew, GE Energy; Aaron Bloom, Trieu Mai, Kara Clark, and Michael Milligan, NREL

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is preparing a series of reports to examine the EPA's Clean Power Plan target of cutting CO2 emissions from existing power plants to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. This paper and the studies within represent a body of work that can help inform the public discussion surrounding the cost and reliability impacts of complying with the proposed EPA CPP. It can assist NERC's efforts and is useful in showing that a 30% CO2 reduction has already been extensively studied, with the analysis showing that reliable and cost-effective compliance is possible.

NREL Report: Sustainable Energy in Remote Indonesian Grids: Accelerating Project Development
Authors: B. Hirsch, Kari Burman, Carolyn Davidson, and Michael Elchinger, NREL; R. Hardison, D. Karsiwulan, and B. Castermans, Winrock International

This report describes SERIG efforts in Indonesia. With DOE support, SERIG (the Sustainable Energy for Remote Indonesian Grids) is supporting Indonesia in developing clean energy and increasing access to electricity in remote locations and is seeking to provide a collective framework for national replication.

NREL Report: Quantification of the Potential Gross Economic Impacts of Five Methane Reduction Scenarios
Authors: David Keyser and Ethan Warner, NREL; Christina Curley, Colorado State University

In this report, the authors assess five potential methane (CH4) reduction scenarios from transmission, storage, and distribution (TS&D) using published literature on the costs and the estimated quantity of CH4 reduced. They utilize cost and methane inventory data to estimate that the implementation of these measures could support approximately 85,000 jobs annually from 2015 to 2019 and reduce CH4 emissions from natural gas TS&D by over 40%.

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.