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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.

June 2015


H2FAST Helps Examine Financial Aspects of Installing Hydrogen Stations


A chart showing the investor cumulative cash flow from investment-to-profit over 20 years.

A quick, convenient aid for analyzing the financial aspects of installing hydrogen-fueling stations is now available. The Hydrogen Financial Analysis Scenario Tool or H2FAST, which was introduced at the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee Meeting in April, comes in online and spreadsheet formats. The online format lets users vary approximately 20 station installation and financial inputs to see how the basic financial performance metrics change. A spreadsheet version of H2FAST provides users with detailed annual finance projections, financial performance parameters, and other results for single stations or groups of up to 10 stations. SEAC's Jonathan Duckworth, Brian Bush, and Dan Getman helped develop H2FAST.


NREL International Projects Active at CEM6


The logo for the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN).

ISGAN recognized the "GRID4EU Large-scale Demonstration of European Smart Distributions Networks" project as the winner of its second annual ISGAN Award of Excellence.

NREL representatives of three different international projects participated in the sixth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM6) in Mérida, Mexico, where world energy ministers and leaders announced new efforts to advance clean energy worldwide. Representing the Clean Energy Solutions Center, Ron Benioff participated in a roundtable on Finance for Energy Access. The International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) announced the winner of its second annual Award of Excellence at CEM6. And, in the run-up to the event, ISGAN released several new publications, including The Role of Smart Grids in Integrating Renewable Energy. Other ISGAN publications appear in the Recent Publications list below. Finally, the 21st Century Power Partnership released its first Status Report on Power System Transformation at CEM6.


Geothermal Energy Association Honors NREL's Getman, Macknick


A photo of Dan Getman and Jordan Macknick.

Two NREL analysts received top recognition from the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) during its National Geothermal Summit on June 3. Each year, GEA honors individuals who have advanced technology, spurred economic development, and worked to protect the environment. Dan Getman, pictured on left, was recognized for developing—in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office—the Geothermal Prospector, which provides a data resource for visually exploring geothermal resources. Jordan Macknick, pictured on right, received the award for improving scientific understanding of geothermal water usage in water-constrained regions. His analysis helped improve the industry's knowledge on the future role of geothermal power.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News


Forbes mentions the California Low Carbon Grid study, which included modeling by NREL, in its article, "How to Ensure New Natural Gas Infrastructure Doesn't Lock Out Renewables."

The Geothermal Regulatory Roadmap was cited in a press release from the offices of U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).

Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation was featured in an EERE blog post and a Power Systems Design news article.

Implications of a PTC Extension on U.S. Wind Deployment was cited in an SNL Financial article.

Senior financial analyst David Feldman was cited in "Why You Should Think Seriously about Going Solar."

The Solar Prospector, PVWatts Calculator, and SAM (System Advisor Model) were featured in a Solar Power World article on performing solar resource assessments.

Data from U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis were cited in an article on renewable energy and natural gas stocks on nasdaq.com.

Solar insolation data from PVWatts Calculator were used in an article on U.S. solar parity.

Data from the Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator were cited in The Business Journal's press release on solar financing.

A Washington Post article, "We test-drove the Toyota 'future' car that Elon Musk hates," referenced the Alternative Fuels Data Center.


Recent Publications


Journal Article: The Policy and Institutional Challenges of Grid Integration of Renewable Energy in the Western United States
Authors: Angela Cifor, University of Colorado at Boulder; Paul Denholm, Erik Ela, and Bri-Mathias Hodge, NREL; Adam Reed, University of Colorado at Boulder

The authors examine the technological components of the western power grid as well as its political, institutional, economic, legal, and cultural attributes to assess the potential and feasibility of organized markets. They also discuss whether organized markets are necessary in the West for optimal integration of renewable energy.


Conference Paper: The Role of Concentrating Solar Power in Integrating Solar and Wind Energy (Preprint)
Authors: Paul Denholm and Mark Mehos

The authors examine technologies that can help integrate resources like wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) at large scale, such as concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage (TES). CSP can complement PV and wind, substantially increasing their penetration in locations with adequate solar resource.


Presentation: Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation
Authors: David Feldman and Robert Margolis, NREL; Anna Brockway and Elaine Ulrich, DOE

This presentation addresses some of the findings in the related report and discusses the potential for U.S. shared solar deployment.


NREL Report: Summary of Market Opportunities for Electric Vehicles and Dispatchable Load in Electrolyzers
Authors: Paul Denholm, Joshua Eichman, and Tony Markel, NREL; Ookie Ma, DOE

This report discusses electric vehicles (EVs) and electrolyzers as potentially significant sources of new electric loads. It addresses existing rate structures, demand programs, ancillary services from EV charging, timing of production, and cost minimization.


NREL Report: Development Impact Assessment (DIA) Case Study: South Africa
Authors: Sadie Cox, Kathleen Nawaz, and Debra Sandor

This case study considers South Africa's experience in evaluating the impacts of climate change action on development goals, focusing on the country's energy sector and development impact assessments (DIAs) that could be used to influence energy policy or inform the selection of energy activities. It reviews multi-criteria impact assessments as well as assessments that consider employment, health, and water implications of possible energy sector actions.


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 to accommodate variable and uncertain load. It explores the possibility of achieving even higher penetration levels through strategic investments in both demand- and supply-side sources of flexibility.


NREL Report: SAM Photovoltaic Model Technical Reference
Author: Paul Gilman

This manual describes the photovoltaic performance model in the System Advisor Model (SAM) as well as its qualities and capabilities. Given a weather file and data describing the physical characteristics of the module, inverter, and array, SAM's photovoltaic performance model combines module and inverter submodels with supplementary code to calculate a photovoltaic power system's hourly AC output.


Report: Status Report on Power System Transformation – A 21st Century Power Partnership Report
Authors: Mackay Miller, NREL; Eric Martinot, Beijing Institute of Technology; Sadie Cox, Bethany Speer, Owen Zinaman, and Sam Booth, NREL; Romain Zissler, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation; Jaquelin Cochran, NREL; S.K. Soonee, Power System Operation Corporation, Ltd, India; Pierre Audinet, World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Program; Luis Munuera, International Energy Agency; Doug Arent, JISEA

This report aims to bolster the evidence base for power system transformation by providing a collection of empirical examples of the types of innovations that are emerging around the world, which can serve as a unique resource to enable decision makers to take action. As the examples show, the word "innovation" itself is not limited to merely technology, but applies widely across market design, planning, operation, institutional coordination, finance, business models, and stakeholder engagement.


Report: The Role of Smart Grids in Integrating Renewable Energy – ISGAN Synthesis Report
Authors: Bethany Speer and Mackay Miller, NREL; Walter Schaffer, Salzburg Netz GmbH, Austria; Leyla Gueran and Albrecht Reuter, Fichtner IT Consulting AG, Austria; Bonnie Jang, Korea Smart Grid Institute; Karin Widegren, Swedish Energy Markets Inspectorate

This paper explores the intersection of smart grid technology, policy, and regulation from a non-technical point of view, focusing on some specific questions relevant for decision makers. Based on emerging case studies from around the world, the authors conclude that smart grids offer solutions to various challenges associated with variable RE, including providing additional flexibility, unlocking demand side participation, and deferring more costly grid upgrades.


Report: IEA Wind Task 26: Wind Technology, Cost and Performance Trends in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Norway, the European Union, and the United States: 2007–2012
Authors: Aisma Vitina, Ea Energy Analyses; Silke Lüers and Anna-Kathrin Wallasch, Deutsche WindGuard; Volker Berkhout, Fraunhofer IWES; Aidan Duffy and Brendan Cleary, Dublin Institute of Technology and Dublin Energy Lab; Leif I. Husabø and David E. Weir, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE); Roberto Lacal-Arántegui, Joint Research Centre, European Commission; M. Maureen Hand and Eric Lantz, NREL; Kathy Belyeu, Belyeu Consulting; Ryan Wiser, Mark Bolinger, and Ben Hoen, LBNL

The authors explore recent trends in wind technology, such as turbine size, rotor diameter, and hub height, recent trends in capital investments and operating costs, and recent trends in cost of energy in five countries and the European Union under International Energy Agency (IEA) Wind Task 26 - Cost of Wind Energy.


Fact Sheet: Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation
Author: David Feldman

This fact sheet discusses the findings presented in the paper of the same name. It includes a high-level overview of the current U.S. shared solar landscape, the impact that a given shared solar program's structure has on requiring federal securities oversight, and an estimate of market potential for U.S. shared solar deployment.


Greening the Grid: EC-LEDS publications


Brochure: Balancing Area Coordination: Efficiently Integrating Renewable Energy into the Grid
Authors: Paul Denholm and Jaquelin Cochran

This brochure addresses the concept of coordinating balancing area operation, such as wind and solar, into power systems. This can promote more cost- and resource-efficient integration of VRE and can be achieved by sharing or coordinating balancing resources and operating reserves across larger geographic boundaries.


Fact Sheet: Grid Integration Studies: Data Requirements
Authors: Jessica Katz

This fact sheet discusses the need for high-quality data for robust and reliable grid integration studies, which can help instill confidence among policymakers, system operators, and investors in increasing the amount of VRE on the grid.


Fact Sheet: Integrating Variable Renewable Energy into the Grid: Key Issues
Authors: Jessica Katz and Jaquelin Cochran

This fact sheet discusses grid integration and some of the considerations for policymakers, regulators, and system operators including new renewable energy generation, new transmission, increased system flexibility, and planning for a high RE future.


Fact Sheet: Methods for Procuring Power System Flexibility
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Jessica Katz, and Mackay Miller

This fact sheet offers a discussion about administrative and market-based mechanisms for procuring a cost-effective mix of flexible resources needed to ensure system reliability and adequacy.


Fact Sheet: Scaling Up Renewable Energy Generation: Aligning Targets and Incentives with Grid Integration Considerations
Authors: Jessica Katz and Jaquelin Cochran

As the proportion of variable renewable energy (VRE) connected to the grid increases, power system planners will need to evaluate and manage the impact of increased variability and uncertainty on system operations and ensure that the policy and regulatory environment offers sufficient certainty and revenue streams to encourage investment in new VRE generation. This fact sheet offers several steps power system planners can take to align targets and incentives with grid integration considerations.


Fact Sheet: Sources of Operational Flexibility
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Michael Milligan, and Jessica Katz

This fact sheet addresses the need for flexibility in power systems with significant variability and uncertainty. Sources of flexibility can be enhanced across all of the physical and institutional elements of the power system, and accessing flexibility requires significant planning to optimize investments and ensure that both short- and long-term power system requirements are met.


Fact Sheet: Using Wind and Solar to Reliably Meet Electricity Demand
Authors: Paul Denholm and Jessica Katz

This fact sheet discusses how VRE, such as wind or solar PV, can provide capacity value to the system when generating during peak demand periods. This can help to defer capital investments in traditional generation and transmission infrastructure.


Fact Sheet: Wind and Solar on the Power Grid: Myths and Misperceptions
Authors: Paul Denholm and Jaquelin Cochran

In this fact sheet, the authors address the unique characteristics of VRE resources and the associated misperceptions regarding their contribution to a low-cost and reliable power grid.


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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.