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December 2010

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June 2010

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February 2010

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December 2010

Modeling Electricity Generation Technologies

Cover of the Cost and Performance Assumptions for Modeling Electricity Generation Technologies report.

SEAC analyst Jordan Macknick worked with Rick Tidball, Joel Bluestein, Nick Rodriguez, and Stu Knoke of ICF International to publish "Cost and Performance Assumptions for Modeling Electricity Generation Technologies." (PDF 1.7 MB)
The goal of this project was to compare and contrast utility-scale power plant characteristics used in data sets that support energy market models. Characteristics include both technology cost and technology performance projections to the year 2050. Cost parameters include installed capital costs and operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. Performance parameters include plant size, heat rate, capacity factor or availability factor, and plant lifetime. Conventional, renewable, and emerging electricity generating technologies were considered. Six data sets, each associated with a different model, were selected. Two of the data sets represent modeled results, not direct model inputs. For the technologies contained in each data set, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) was also evaluated, according to published cost, performance, and fuel assumptions.

Techno-Economic Analysis

NREL analyst David Hsu, in collaboration with experts from Iowa State University and ConocoPhillips, used techno-economic analysis to examine the production of biofuels in two recently published reports. One report analyzes the production of biomass to liquid based on gasification, and the other report analyzes the production of biomass to fuel via fast pyrolysis and bio-oil upgrading. Each study evaluated the economics of two scenarios.

Biofuels Production Based on Gasification

Cover of the Techno-Economic Analysis of Biofuels Production Based on Gasification report.

SEAC analyst David D. Hsu — along with Ryan M. Swanson, Justinus A. Satrio, and Robert C. Brown (Iowa State University) and Alexandru Platon (ConocoPhillips) —published the report "Techno-Economic Analysis of Biofuels Production Based on Gasification." (PDF 2.4 MB)
This study compares capital and production costs of two biomass-to-liquid production plants based on gasification. The first biorefinery scenario is an oxygen-fed, low-temperature (870°C), non-slagging, fluidized bed gasifier. The second scenario is an oxygen-fed, high-temperature (1,300°C), slagging, entrained flow gasifier. Both are followed by catalytic Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and hydroprocessing to naphtha-range (gasoline blend stock) and distillate-range (diesel blend stock) liquid fractions. Process modeling software (Aspen Plus) is utilized to organize the mass and energy streams and cost estimation software used to generate equipment costs. Economic analysis is performed to estimate the capital investment and operating costs. Results show that the total capital investment required for nth plant scenarios is $610 million and $500 million for high-temperature and low-temperature scenarios, respectively. Product value for the high-temperature and low-temperature scenarios is estimated to be $4.30 and $4.80 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, respectively, based on a feedstock cost of $75 per dry short ton. Sensitivity analysis is also performed on process and economic parameters. This analysis shows that total capital investment and feedstock cost are among the most influential parameters affecting the product value.

Biomass to Fuel Products via Fast Pyrolysis

Cover of the Techno-Economic Analysis of Biomass Fast Pyrolysis to Transportation Fuels report.

SEAC analyst David D. Hsu — along with Mark M. Wright, Justinus A. Satrio, and Robert C. Brown (Iowa State University) and Daren E. Daugaard (ConocoPhillips) — recently published "Techno-Economic Analysis of Biomass Fast Pyrolysis to Transportation Fuels." (PDF 2.0 MB)
This study develops techno-economic models for assessment of the conversion of biomass to valuable fuel products via fast pyrolysis and bio-oil upgrading. The upgrading process produces a mixture of naphtha-range (gasoline blend stock) and diesel-range (diesel blend stock) products. This study analyzes the economics of two scenarios: onsite hydrogen production by reforming bio-oil and hydrogen purchase from an outside source. The study results for an nth plant indicate that petroleum fractions in the naphtha distillation range and in the diesel distillation range are produced from corn stover at a product value of $3.09/gal ($0.82/L) with onsite hydrogen production of $2.11/gal ($0.56/L) with hydrogen purchase. These values correspond to a $0.83/gal ($0.21/L) cost to produce the bio-oil. Based on these nth plant numbers, product value for a pioneer hydrogen-producing plant is about $6.55/gal ($1.73/L) and for a pioneer hydrogen-purchasing plant is about $3.41/gal ($0.92/L). Sensitivity analysis identifies fuel yield as a key variable for the hydrogen-production scenario. Biomass cost is important for both scenarios. Changing feedstock cost from $50—$100 per short ton changes the price of fuel in the hydrogen production scenario from $2.57–$3.62/gal ($0.68–$0.96/L).

Financing Renewable Energy Projects Web Site

Cover of the 2009 Renewable Energy Data Book report.

The Finance Analysis Team at NREL developed a Web site focused on renewable energy project finance. The RE Project Finance site features a blog, case studies, market analysis, and policy evaluation written by NREL staff. In addition, the team has compiled an extensive database of resources, tools, and analysis from multiple sources about the financing of commercially available renewable electric generation in the United States. Site users can learn how revenues, incentives, government programs, and available financing structures enhance project financing. Policymakers (local, state, and federal), investors, project developers, and end-use customers can expand their knowledge of technology-specific financing approaches, as well as policies relating to financing.

October/November 2010

Renewable Energy Data Book

Cover of the 2009 Renewable Energy Data Book report.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has released the updated version of the "2009 Renewable Energy Data Book," which was produced by NREL. It can be accessed from the Energy Analysis section of the EERE website. This data book (PDF 10.0 MB) contains valuable information on U.S. energy statistics, renewable electricity in the United States, global renewable energy (RE) development, clean energy investments, and data on specific RE technologies, all presented in a graphical format.

Clean Energy Data Book for States

Screenshot of the online levelized cost of energy (LCOE) calculator.

NREL has also produced its inaugural "2009 U.S. State Clean Energy Data Book" (PDF 10.7 MB) for EERE's Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program. This resource, which is part of the Clean Energy Policy Analyses (CEPA) series, provides an easy-to-access graphical summary of the status of state-level energy efficiency and renewable energy developments and supporting policy implementation. It provides a reference book for those interested in the progress of the states and regions toward a clean energy economy.

Green Power Status

Cover of the Green Power Marketing in the United States: A Status Report (2009 Data) report.

SEAC analysts Lori Bird and Jenny Sumner recently published the annual "Green Power Marketing in the United States: A Status Report (2009 Data)." (PDF 1.1 MB)
This report documents green power marketing activities and trends in the United States. Voluntary purchases of green power by consumers and businesses grew by 17% to 30 million megawatt hours (MWh) in 2009, despite the challenging economy. Much of this growth was driven by corporate and institutional purchases of renewable energy certificates (RECs) and renewable electricity purchases in markets with retail competition, such as Texas. Overall, the total number of customers purchasing green power increased by 44% in 2009, which is a higher rate than in previous years; gains came primarily from a competitive offering in Texas introduced in 2009. The data presented in this report are based primarily on figures provided to NREL by utilities and independent renewable energy marketers. The report also discusses current issues and trends in the voluntary market, including REC prices and transparency, and the treatment of renewable energy purchases in greenhouse gas inventories. The report was presented at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference in October.

Feed-In Tariffs and Interconnection

Cover of the The Relevance of Generation Interconnection Procedures to Feed-in Tariffs in the United States report.

NREL analysts Elizabeth Doris and Karlynn Cory worked with authors Sari Fink, Kevin Porter, and Jennifer Rogers of Exeter Associates to publish "The Relevance of Generation Interconnection Procedures to Feed-in Tariffs in the United States." (PDF 606 KB)
A key provision for the success of Feed-in tariff (FIT) policies in Europe is guaranteed interconnection. These policies generally provide guaranteed prices for the full system output from eligible generators for a fixed time period (typically 15-20 years). Due in part to the success of FIT policies in Europe, some jurisdictions in the United States are considering implementing similar policies, and a few have already put such policies in place. This report is intended to offer some guidance to policymakers and regulators on how generator interconnection procedures may affect the implementation of FITs in the United States. It examines model procedures (developed by several organizations), highlights best practices, and explores how state generator interconnection procedures can be formulated to support state renewable energy objectives.

Clean Energy Technology Cooperation

Cover of the Strengthening Clean Energy Technology Cooperation under the UNFCCC: Steps toward Implementation report.

NREL analysts Ron Benioff and Joyce McLaren — along with Helleen de Coninck (ECN) and Subash Dhar, Ulrich Hansen, and Jyoti Painuly (all of Risoe National Laboratory) — recently published the report "Strengthening Clean Energy Technology Cooperation under the UNFCCC: Steps toward Implementation" (PDF 1.1 MB).
Development of a comprehensive and effective global clean technology cooperation framework will require years of experimenting and evaluation with new instruments and institutional arrangements before it is clear what works on which scale and in which region or country. In presenting concrete examples, this paper aims to set the first step in that process by highlighting successful models and innovative approaches that can inform efforts to ramp up clean energy technology cooperation. This paper reviews current mechanisms and international frameworks for global cooperation on clean energy technologies, both within and outside of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and provides selected concrete options for scaling up global cooperation on clean energy technology RD&D, enabling environment, and financing.

Renewables in India

Cover of the Indian Renewable Energy Status Report: Background Report for DIREC 2010 report.

SEAC analysts Sarah Busche, Shannon Cowlin, and Anelia Milbrandt — along with D. S. Arora and Hanna Jaritz (IRADe), Tobias Engelmeier (Bridge to India Pvt. Ltd.), and Shannon Wang (REN21 Secretariat) — recently published "Indian Renewable Energy Status Report: Background Report for DIREC 2010." (PDF 8.3 MB)
India has great potential to accelerate use of endowed renewable resources in powering its growing economy with a secure and affordable energy supply. The Government of India recognizes that development of local, renewable resources will be critical to ensure that the country is able to meet both economic and environmental objectives and has supported the development of renewable energy through several policy actions. This paper describes the status of renewable energy in India as of DIREC 2010 (the Delhi International Renewable Energy Conference). It begins by describing the institutional framework guiding energy development in India, the main policy drivers impacting energy, and the major policy actions India has taken that impact renewable energy deployment. The paper presents estimates of potential for wind, solar, small hydro, and bioenergy and the deployment of each of these technologies to date in India. The potential for India to meet both large-scale generation needs and provide access to remote, unelectrified populations are covered. Finally, the enabling environment required to facilitate rapid scale of renewables is discussed, including issues of technology transfer and the status of financing in India.

Microalgae Production in India

Cover of the Resource Evaluation and Site Selection for Microalgae Production in India report.

Also on the Indian front, NREL analysts Anelia Milbrandt and Eric Jarvis have published "Resource Evaluation and Site Selection for Microalgae Production in India." (PDF 16 MB)
The study evaluates climate conditions, availability of CO2 and other nutrients, water resources, and land characteristics to identify areas in India suitable for algae production. The purpose is to provide an understanding of the resource potential in India for algae biofuels production and to assist policymakers, investors, and industry developers in their future strategic decisions.

RE-Powering America's Land

NREL recently released the second in a series of reports, which highlight studies conducted with the Environmental Protection Agency for the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative. This project looks at opportunities for siting renewable energy on potentially contaminated land and mine sites — this report examines the possibilities for St. Marks, Florida. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Gail Mosey.

PV in St. Marks, Florida

Cover of the Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Former St. Marks Refinery in St. Marks, Florida report.

NREL's Lars Lisell and Gail Mosey recently published the report "Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Former St. Marks Refinery in St. Marks, Florida." (PDF 985 KB)
This report presents the results of an assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of deploying a photovoltaics (PV) system on a brownfield site in St. Marks, Florida. The site was assessed for possible PV installations. The cost, performance, and site impacts of different PV options were estimated. The economics of the potential systems were analyzed using an electric rate of $0.08/kWh and incentives offered in the State of Florida and from the two accessible utilities, Progress Energy, and the City of Tallahassee. According to the site production calculations, the most cost-effective system in terms of return on investment is the fixed-tilt thin film technology. The report recommends financing options that could assist in the implementation of such a system.

September 2010

Cost of Energy Calculator

Screenshot of the online levelized cost of energy (LCOE) calculator.

NREL has developed a page on its Energy Analysis Web site that provides information on cost and performance data for energy technologies. Laboratory analysts recently added a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) calculator, which provides a metric that compares the combination of capital costs, O&M, performance and fuel costs. It doesn't include financing issues, discount issues, future replacement or degradation costs, or similar attributes, which would need to be included for a more complex analysis. To estimate a simple cost of energy, sliders are used to adjust the values. The calculator returns the LCOE in cents per kilowatt-hour.

Increasing Clean Energy Technologies Globally

Cover of Benefits to the United States of Increasing Global Uptake of Clean Energy Technologies report.

SEAC analyst David Kline recently published the report "Benefits to the United States of Increasing Global Uptake of Clean Energy Technologies" (PDF 1.6 MB).
A previous report describes an opportunity for the United States to take leadership in efforts to transform the global energy system toward clean energy technologies (CET). That report includes estimates of the economic benefits to the United States of such a global transformation on the order of several hundred billion dollars per year by 2050. This new report describes the methods and assumptions used in developing those benefit estimates. It begins with a summary of the results of the analysis based on an updated and refined model completed since the publication of the previous report. The framework described can be used to estimate the economic benefits to the U.S. of coordinated global action to increase the uptake of CETs worldwide. Together with a Monte Carlo simulation engine, the framework can be used to develop plausible ranges for benefits, taking into account the large uncertainty in the driving variables and economic parameters. The resulting estimates illustrate that larger global clean energy markets offer significant opportunities to the United States economy

Cover of Solar Photovoltaic Feasibility Study: City of Nitro, West Virginia report.

RE-Powering America's Land

NREL recently released the first in a series of reports, which highlights studies conducted with the Environmental Protection Agency for the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative. This project looks at opportunities for siting renewable energy on potentially contaminated land and mine sites — this report examines the possibilities for Nitro, West Virginia. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Gail Mosey.

PV in Nitro, West Virginia

NREL's Lars Lisell and Gail Mosey recently published the report "Solar Photovoltaic Feasibility Study: City of Nitro, West Virginia." (PDF 541 KB)
The study described in this report assessed brownfield sites designated by the City of Nitro, West Virginia, for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. The study analyzed three different types of PV systems for eight sites. The report estimates the cost, performance, and site impacts of thin film technology and crystalline silicon panels (both fixed-axis tracking and single-axis tracking systems). Potential job creation and electrical rate increases were also considered, and the report recommends financing options that could assist in the implementation of a system.

August 2010

Feed-in Tariff Policy Design

Cover of A Policymaker's Guide to Feed-in Tariff Policy Design report.

SEAC analysts Karlynn Cory and Claire Kreycik, along with Toby Couture of E3 Analytics and Emily Williams of the U.S. Department of State, recently published the report "A Policymaker's Guide to Feed-in Tariff Policy Design" (PDF 2.1 MB).
Feed-in tariffs (FITs) are the most widely used renewable energy policy in the world for driving accelerating renewable energy (RE) deployment, accounting for a greater share of RE development than either tax incentives or renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies. FITs have generated significant RE deployment, helping bring the countries that have implemented them successfully to the forefront of the global RE industry. In the European Union (EU), FIT policies have led to the deployment of more than 15,000 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power and more than 55,000 MW of wind power between 2000 and the end of 2009. In total, FITs are responsible for approximately 75% of global PV and 45% of global wind deployment. Countries such as Germany, in particular, have demonstrated that FITs can be used as a powerful policy tool to drive RE deployment and help meet combined energy security and emissions reductions objectives. This policymaker's guide provides a detailed analysis of FIT policy design and implementation and identifies a set of best practices that have been effective at quickly stimulating the deployment of large amounts of RE generation. Although the discussion is aimed primarily at decision makers who have decided that a FIT policy best suits their needs, exploration of FIT policies can also help inform a choice among alternative renewable energy policies.

EE and RE in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Cover of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research, Development, and Deployment in Meeting Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Goals: The Case of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 (S. 2191) report.

NREL analyst Laura Vimmerstedt, along with Sharon Showalter and Frances Wood of OnLocation, Inc./Energy Systems Consulting, recently published the report "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Research, Development, and Deployment in Meeting Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Goals: The Case of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 (S. 2191)" (PDF 635 KB).
The U.S. federal government is considering actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so the cost of these technologies could significantly influence the overall cost of meeting greenhouse gas limits. This paper examines the potential benefit of reduced technology cost by analyzing the case of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 (S.2191). This act had a goal of reducing national carbon emissions in 2050 to levels 72 percent below 2006 emission levels. In April 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA) published an analysis of the effects of S.2191 on the U.S. energy sector. This report presents a similar analysis: Both analyses examined the impacts of S.2191, and both used versions of the National Energy Modeling System. The analysis reported here used modified technology assumptions to reflect U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program goals. The results show that achieving EERE program goals could reduce the cost of meeting greenhouse gas limits, reduce the cost of renewable electricity generation and biofuels, and reduce energy intensity.

2009 Wind Market Data

Cover of 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report report.

EERE has published its "2009 Wind Technologies Market Report" (PDF 3.0 MB), which was updated by Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The U.S. wind power industry experienced yet another record year in 2009, once again surpassing even optimistic growth projections from years past. At the same time, 2009 was a year of upheaval, with the global financial crisis impacting the wind power industry and with federal policy changes enacted to push the industry toward continued aggressive expansion. The year 2010, meanwhile, is anticipated to be one of some retrenchment, with expectations for fewer wind power capacity additions than seen in 2009. The rapid pace of development and change within the industry has made it difficult to keep up with trends in the marketplace, yet the need for timely, objective information on the industry and its progress has never been greater. This report — the fourth in an ongoing annual series — attempts to meet this need by providing a detailed overview of developments and trends in the United States wind power market, with a particular focus on 2009.

Commercial Rate Structures and PV

Cover of The Impacts of Commercial Electric Utility Rate Structure Elements on the Economics of Photovoltaic Systems report.

NREL analysts Sean Ong, Paul Denholm, and Elizabeth Doris recently published the report "The Impacts of Commercial Electric Utility Rate Structure Elements on the Economics of Photovoltaic Systems" (PDF 541 KB).
This analysis uses simulated building data, simulated solar photovoltaic (PV) data, and actual electric utility tariff data from 25 cities to understand better the impacts of different commercial rate structures on the value of solar PV systems. By analyzing and comparing 55 unique rate structures across the United States, this study seeks to identify the rate components that have the greatest effect on the value of PV systems. Understanding the beneficial components of utility tariffs can both assist decision makers in choosing appropriate rate structures and influence the development of rates that favor the deployment of PV systems. Results from this analysis show that a PV system's value decreases with increasing demand charges. Findings also indicate that time-of-use rate structures with peaks coincident with PV production and wide ranges between on- and off-peak prices most benefit the types of buildings and PV systems simulated. By analyzing a broad set of rate structures from across the United States, this analysis provides an insight into the range of impacts that current U.S. rate structures have on PV systems.

Financing Renewable Energy Projects

NREL recently released another fact sheet in its series on financing renewable energy projects — this edition provides information on property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Karlynn Cory.

Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing

Cover of Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing of Renewables and Efficiency report.

SEAC analyst Bethany Speer recently published the fact sheet "Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing of Renewables and Efficiency" (PDF 385 KB).
Under property assessed clean energy (PACE), localities create special tax assessment districts to provide financing for property owners for renewables and energy efficiency retrofits. Property owners who invest in energy efficiency (EE) measures and small renewable energy (RE) systems then repay these loans over 15 to 20 years through annual assessments on their property tax bills. This fact sheet outlines the benefits of PACE programs and describes how they can be designed, implemented, and funded. The fact sheet also summarizes the benefits and challenges of various PACE program funding mechanisms, including micro-bonds, regular bonds, bank loans, general funds, and municipal waste funds.

July 2010

State, Utility, and Municipal Loan Programs

Cover of the State, Utility, and Municipal Loan Programs report.

SEAC analyst Eric Lantz recently published the report "State Clean Energy Policies Analysis: State, Utility, and Municipal Loan Programs" (PDF 668 KB).
High initial costs can impede the deployment of clean energy technologies. Financing can reduce these costs. And, state, municipal, and utility-sponsored loan programs have emerged to fill the gap between clean energy technology financing needs and private sector lending. In general, public loan programs are more favorable to clean energy technologies than are those offered by traditional lending institutions; however, public loan programs address only the high up-front costs of clean energy systems, and the technology installed under these loan programs rarely supports clean energy production at levels that have a notable impact on the broader energy sector. This report discusses ways to increase the impact of these loan programs and suggests related policy design considerations.

Techno-Economic Analysis on Production of Cellulosic Ethanol

Cover of the Techno-Economic Analysis of Biochemical Scenarios for Production of Cellulosic Ethanol report.

F. Kabir Kazi, J. Fortman, and R. Anex of Iowa State University; G. Kothandaraman of ConocoPhillips Company; and David Hsu, Andy Aden, and Abhijit Dutta of NREL recently published the report "Techno-Economic Analysis of Biochemical Scenarios for Production of Cellulosic Ethanol" (PDF 1.8 MB).
A techno-economic analysis on the production of cellulosic ethanol by fermentation was conducted to understand the viability of liquid biofuel production processes within the next 5-8 years. Initially, 35 technologies were reviewed; then, a two-step down selection was performed to choose scenarios to be evaluated in a more detailed economic analysis. The lignocellulosic ethanol process was selected because it is well studied, and portions of the process have been tested at pilot scales. Seven process variations were selected and examined in detail. Process designs were constrained to public data published in 2007 or earlier, without projecting for future process improvements. Economic analysis was performed for an "nth plant" (mature technology) to obtain total investment and product value (PV). Sensitivity analysis was performed on PV to assess the impact of variations in process and economic parameters. Results show that the modeled dilute acid pretreatment process without any downstream process variation had the lowest PV of $3.40/gallon of ethanol ($5.15/gallon of gasoline equivalent) in 2007 dollars. Sensitivity analysis shows that PV is most sensitive to feedstock and enzyme costs.

Financing Renewable Energy Projects

NREL recently released another fact sheet in its series on financing renewable energy projects — this issue provides information on property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Karlynn Cory.

Cover of the Photovoltaics (PV) as an Eligible Measure in Residential PACE Programs: Benefits and Challenges report.

Photovoltaics as a Measure in PACE Programs

NREL analyst Jason Coughlin also recently published the fact sheet "Photovoltaics (PV) as an Eligible Measure in Residential PACE Programs: Benefits and Challenges" (PDF 425 KB).
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is one of several new financial models broadening access to clean energy by addressing the barrier of initial capital cost. The majority of the PACE programs in the market today include photovoltaics (PV) as an eligible measure. PV appeals to homeowners as a way to reduce utility bills, self-generate sustainable power, increase energy independence and demonstrate a commitment to the environment. If substantial state incentives for PV exist, PV projects can be economic under PACE, especially when partnered with good net metering policies. At the same time, PV is expensive relative to other eligible measures with a return on investment horizon that might exceed program targets. This fact sheet reviews the benefits and potential challenges of including PV in PACE programs.

June 2010

Wind and Solar on the Grid

Cover of the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study report.

NREL has released an initial study assessing the operational impacts and economics of increased contributions from wind and solar energy producers on the power grid. The "Western Wind and Solar Integration Study" examines the benefits and challenges of integrating enough wind and solar energy capacity into the grid to produce 35% of its electricity by 2017. The study finds that this target is technically feasible and does not necessitate extensive additional infrastructure, but does require key changes to current operational practice. The results, which offer a first look at the issue of adding a significant amount of variable renewable energy in the West, will help utilities across the region plan how to ramp up their production of renewable energy as they incorporate more wind and solar energy plants into the power grid.

The study can be downloaded from the NREL Transmission Grid Integration website.

Evaluating an RPS and Carbon Cap Scenarios

Cover of the Evaluating Renewable Portfolio Standards and Carbon Cap Scenarios in the U.S. Electric Sectore report.

SEAC analysts Lori Bird, Caroline Chapman, Jeff Logan, Jenny Sumner, and Walter Short recently published the report "Evaluating Renewable Portfolio Standards and Carbon Cap Scenarios in the U.S. Electric Sector" (PDF 1.3 MB).
This report examines the impact of various renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and cap-and-trade policy options on the U.S. electricity sector, focusing mainly on renewable energy generation. The analysis uses NREL's Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model that simulates the least-cost expansion of electricity generation capacity and transmission in the United States to examine the impact of an emissions cap — similar to that proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454) — as well as lower and higher cap scenarios. It also examines the effects of combining various RPS targets with the emissions caps. The generation mix, carbon emissions, and electricity price are examined for various policy combinations to simulate the effect of implementing policies simultaneously.

Green Power Market Forecast

Cover of the Voluntary Green Power Market Forecast through 2015 report.

SEAC analysts Lori Bird, Jenny Sumner, and Claire Kreycik, along with Ed Holt of Ed Holt and Associates, recently published the report "Voluntary Green Power Market Forecast through 2015" (PDF 695 KB).
Various factors influence the development of the voluntary "green" power market — the market in which consumers purchase or produce power from non-polluting, renewable energy sources. These factors include climate policies, renewable portfolio standards (RPS), renewable energy prices, consumers' interest in purchasing green power, and utilities' interest in promoting existing programs and in offering new green options. This report presents estimates of voluntary market demand for green power through 2015 that were made using historical data and three scenarios: low-growth, high-growth, and negative-policy impacts. Several key uncertainties affect the results of this forecast, including uncertainties related to growth assumptions, the impacts that policy may have on the market, the price and competitiveness of renewable generation, and the level of interest that utilities have in offering and promoting green power products.

Life Cycle Assessment of Jatropha Biodiesel

Cover of the Life Cycle Assessment Comparing the Use of Jatropha Biodiesel in the Indian Road and Rail Sectors report.

Michael Whitaker of Symbiotic Engineering and Garvin Heath of NREL recently published the report "Life Cycle Assessment Comparing the Use of Jatropha Biodiesel in the Indian Road and Rail Sectors" (PDF 2.4 MB).
This life cycle assessment of Jatropha biodiesel production and use evaluates the net greenhouse gas (GHG) emission (not considering land-use change), net energy value (NEV), and net petroleum consumption impacts of substituting Jatropha biodiesel for conventional petroleum diesel in India. Several blends of biodiesel with petroleum diesel are evaluated for the rail freight, rail passenger, road freight, and road-passenger transport sectors that currently rely heavily on petroleum diesel. While the road-passenger transport sector provides the greatest sustainability benefits per 1,000 gross tonne kilometers, the road freight sector eventually provides the greatest absolute benefits owing to substantially higher projected use by 2020. Nevertheless, introduction of biodiesel to the rail sector might present the fewest logistical and capital expenditure challenges in the near term. Sensitivity analyses confirmed that the sustainability benefits are maintained under multiple plausible cultivation, processing, and distribution scenarios. However, the sustainability of any individual Jatropha plantation will depend on site-specific conditions.

Global Analysis Activities

Cover of the NREL Helps Apply Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technologies Worldwide report.

NREL's international group recently published the fact sheet "NREL Helps Apply Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technologies Worldwide" (PDF 433 KB), which includes information on analysis activities going on worldwide. NREL applies its technical expertise and capabilities to promote the use of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) technologies throughout the world. NREL's international work spans our full range of capabilities, which include three primary areas of expertise:

  1. Analysis - NREL provides technology-neutral information, global and regional assessments and decision tools, and expert advice.
  2. Research and Development - NREL conducts collaborative research and development (R&D) and shares methods and results with leading research institutions throughout the world.
  3. Deployment/Commercialization - NREL teams with private industry, other countries, and international institutions to invest in RE and EE technologies.
Cover of the EERE-Supported International Activities in Latin America report.

This fact sheet highlights NREL's international multilateral partnerships, bilateral partnerships, climate and environmental initiatives, and energy assessments and resources.

International Activities in Latin America

NREL's international group also published a fact sheet focused on "EERE-Supported International Activities in Latin America" (PDF 481 KB).
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is involved in a variety of international initiatives, partnerships, and events that promote greater understanding and use of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) worldwide. In support of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), EERE is working with several Latin American countries to advance EE and RE deployment for economic growth, energy security, poverty relief, and disaster recovery goals. This fact sheet highlights those activities.

Cover of Solar Power and the Electric Grid report.

April/May 2010

Solar Power and the Electric Grid

NREL analysts recently published the fact sheet "Solar Power and the Electric Grid" (PDF 767 KB).
In today's electricity generation system, different resources make different contributions to the electricity grid. The grid maintains an instantaneous balance between supply and demand (generation and load) while moving electricity from generation source to customer. Because large amounts of electricity are difficult to store, the amount generated and fed into the system must be carefully matched to the load to keep the system operating. This fact sheet illustrates the roles of distributed and centralized renewable energy technologies, particularly solar power, and how they will contribute to the future electricity system. The advantages of a diversified mix of power generation systems are highlighted.

CSP and Storage

Cover of the The Value of Concentrating Solar Power and Thermal Energy Storage report.

NREL's Paul Denholm and Ramteen Sioshansi of Ohio State University recently published the report "The Value of Concentrating Solar Power and Thermal Energy Storage" (PDF 555 KB).
This report examines the value of concentrating solar power (CSP) and thermal energy storage (TES) in four regions in the southwestern United States. The analysis shows that TES can increase the value of CSP by allowing more thermal energy from a CSP plant's solar field to be used, by allowing a CSP plant to accommodate a larger solar field, and by allowing CSP generation to be shifted to hours with higher energy prices. The analysis also examines the sensitivity of CSP value to a number of factors, including the optimization period, price and solar forecasting, ancillary service sales, capacity value and dry cooling of the CSP plant. The report also discusses the value of CSP plants and TES net of capital costs.

Photovoltaic R&D, Manufacturing, and Testing

Cover of the Consortia Focused on Photovoltaic R&D, Manufacturing, and Testing: A Review of Existing Models and Structures report.

SEAC analyst Robert Margolis and Charlie Coggeshall of New West Technologies recently published the report "Consortia Focused on Photovoltaic R&D, Manufacturing, and Testing: A Review of Existing Models and Structures" (PDF 568 KB).
As the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Solar Energy Technologies Program prepares to initiate a new cost-shared research and development (R&D) effort on photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing, it is useful to review the experience to date with consortia focused on PV R&D, manufacturing, and testing. Information was gathered for this report by conducting interviews and accessing Web sites of 14 U.S. consortia and four European consortia, each with either a primary focus on or an emerging interest in PV technology R&D, manufacturing, or testing. Additional input was collected from several workshops held by the DOE and National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2009, which examined the practical steps — including public-private partnerships and policy support — necessary to enhance the United States' capacity to competitively manufacture photovoltaics. This report categorizes the 18 consortia into three groups: university-led consortia, industry-led consortia, and manufacturing and testing facilities consortia. The first section summarizes the organizations within the different categories, with a particular focus on the key benefits and challenges for each grouping. The second section provides a more detailed overview of each consortium, including the origins, goals, organization, membership, funding sources, and key contacts. This survey is a useful resource for stakeholders interested in PV manufacturing R&D, but should not imply endorsement of any of these groups.

Analysts Meet With Stakeholders

SEAC analyst Garvin Heath presented to the National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Economic and Environmental Impacts of Increasing Biofuels Production. His topic was "Building uncertainties into modeling of direct life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, net energy and other environmental effects of biofuels." The meeting was attended by all 16 committee members, with presentations by three invited experts and five stakeholder groups. Representatives of sponsoring and participating agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Treasury, U.S. DOE), stakeholder groups, and members of the public also attended. A copy of the presentation is available through the NRC public access records office. A report based on the committee findings is expected to be produced by June 2011.

SEAC hosted 40 electric utility executives and managers from throughout the country in an NREL Analysis Roundtable meeting. The meeting featured presentations on the forthcoming Renewable Electricity Futures study as well as snapshots of other SEAC analysis work. These topics included analysis of proposed clean energy legislation, markets for renewable energy credits, and sustainability analysis. SEAC presenters included James Newcomb, Maureen Hand, Trieu Mai, Greg Brinkman, Jeff Logan, Lori Bird, and Garvin Heath.

March 2010

Cover of The Role of Energy Storage with Renewable Electricity Generation report.

Storage and Renewable Electricity Generation

NREL's Paul Denholm, Erik Ela, Brendan Kirby, and Michael Milligan recently published the report "The Role of Energy Storage with Renewable Electricity Generation" (PDF 1.2 MB).
Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, have vast potential to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions in the electric sector. Climate change concerns, state initiatives including renewable portfolio standards, and consumer efforts are resulting in increased deployments of both technologies. Both solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy have variable and uncertain (sometimes referred to as "intermittent") output, which are unlike the dispatchable sources used for the majority of electricity generation in the United States. The variability of these sources has led to concerns regarding the reliability of an electric grid that derives a large fraction of its energy from these sources as well as the cost of reliably integrating large amounts of variable generation into the electric grid. In this report, we explore the role of energy storage in the electricity grid, focusing on the effects of large-scale deployment of variable renewable sources (primarily wind and solar energy).

Cover of the Community Greening: How To Develop A Strategic Energy Plan report.
Cover of the State Clean Energy Policies Analysis (SCEPA): State Policy and the Pursuit of Renewable Energy Manufacturing report.

Community Greening Policy Planning Guide

NREL analyst Elizabeth Doris recently published "Community Greening: How To Develop A Strategic Energy Plan" (PDF 789 KB).
This guide provides an overview of strategic electricity planning for communities, using a step-by-step approach to develop a strategic energy plan. This method has a high chance of success, because it is based on stakeholder buy-in and political commitment. Not all communities will need to follow all steps, but the process is designed to incorporate all parties, maximize solution-based thinking, and develop a plan that can be carried out by community leaders. There are many specific programs and consultancies available to assist in various parts of the planning process.

Policies and RE Manufacturing

SEAC analysts Eric Lantz, Frank Oteri, Suzanne Tegen, and Elizabeth Doris recently published the report "State Clean Energy Policies Analysis (SCEPA): State Policy and the Pursuit of Renewable Energy Manufacturing" (PDF 655 KB).
Future manufacturing of renewable energy equipment in the United States provides economic development opportunities for state and local communities. However, demand for the equipment is finite, and opportunities are limited. U.S. demand is estimated to drive total annual investments in renewable energy equipment to $14-$20 billion by 2030. Evidence from leading states in renewable energy manufacturing suggests that economic development strategies that target renewable energy sector needs by adapting existing policies attract renewable energy manufacturing more than strategies that create new policies. This report discusses how state marketing strategies for acquiring renewable energy manufacturers are likely best served by an approach that: (1) is multi-faceted and long-term, (2) fits within existing broad-based economic development strategies, (3) includes specific components such as support for renewable energy markets and low barriers to renewable energy deployment, and (4) involves increased differentiation by leveraging existing assets when applicable.

Insuring Solar Photovoltaics

Cover from the Insuring Solar Photovoltaics: Challenges and Possible Solutions report.

NREL analysts Bethany Speer, Michael Mendelsohn, and Karlynn Cory published the report "Insuring Solar Photovoltaics: Challenges and Possible Solutions" (PDF 1.1 MB).
Insuring solar photovoltaic (PV) systems poses certain challenges. Insurance premiums, which can represent a significant part of overall annual operating costs for PV developers, can affect market competition. The market for certain types of insurance products is limited. Historical loss data is lacking in the United States, and test data for the long-term viability of PV products under real-life conditions is limited. Insurers' knowledge about PV systems and the PV industry is uneven even as the industry introduces innovative contractual structures and business models. Interviews conducted for this report with PV project developers, insurance brokers, and underwriters suggest government actions aimed at better testing, data collection, and communication could facilitate the development of a market for PV insurance products. This report identifies actions by governments, national laboratories, and other stakeholders that could accelerate the development of insurance products in support of PV systems, including increased technology understanding in the insurance industry, increased access to PV historical loss data, and advanced industry standards, among others.

Third-Party Power Purchase Agreements

Cover from the Energy Efficiency Policy in the United States: Overview of Trends at Different Levels of Government report.

Katharine Kollins of Duke University worked with NREL analysts Bethany Speer and Karlynn Cory to publish the report "Solar PV Project Financing: Regulatory and Legislative Challenges for Third-Party PPA System Owners" (PDF 1.5 MB).
Residential and commercial end users of electricity who want to generate electricity using on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) systems face challenging initial and O&M costs. The third-party ownership power purchase agreement (PPA) finance model addresses these and other challenges. It allows developers to build and own PV systems on customers' properties and sell power back to customers. However, third-party electricity sales commonly face regulatory and legislative challenges. The definitions of electric utilities and electric services may compel third-party owners of solar PV systems to be regulated by state regulators — an uncertainty that these developers will not be willing to take. Third-party owners face an additional challenge if they may not net meter, a practice that provides significant financial incentive to owning solar PV systems. Finally, municipalities and cooperatives in states with deregulated electric generation may worry about the regulatory implications of allowing an entity to sell electricity within their service territories. This report summarizes these challenges, when they occur, and how they have been addressed in five states. This paper also presents alternatives to the third-party ownership PPA finance model, including solar leases, contractual intermediaries, and standardized contract language, among others.

Analysts Meet With Stakeholders

SEAC analyst Gail Mosey is leading a project between NREL and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate the feasibility of developing renewable energy production on Superfund, brownfields, and former landfill or mining sites. Superfund sites are the most complex, uncontrolled, or abandoned hazardous waste sites identified by EPA for cleanup due to the risk they pose to human health or the environment. Brownfields are properties at which expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence of contaminants. EPA is investing more than $650,000 for the project that pairs EPA's expertise on contaminated sites with the renewable energy expertise of NREL. The project is part of the RE-Powering America's Land initiative, which aims to decrease the amount of green space used for development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide health and economic benefits to local communities, including job creation.

For more background on the project, visit NREL's Web site; for fact sheets on each location and more information on the RE-Powering America's Land initiative, visit the EPA Web site.

February 2010

Carbon Tax Policies

Cover of the Carbon Taxes: A Review of Experience and Policy Design Considerations report.

NREL analysts Jenny Sumner, Lori Bird, and Hillary Smith recently published the report "Carbon Taxes: A Review of Experience and Policy Design Considerations" (PDF 584 KB).
State and local governments in the United States are evaluating a wide range of policies to reduce carbon emissions, including, in some instances, carbon taxes, which have existed internationally for nearly 20 years. This report reviews existing carbon tax policies both internationally and in the United States. It also analyzes carbon policy design and effectiveness. Design considerations include which sectors to tax, where to set the tax rate, how to use tax revenues, what the impact will be on consumers, and how to ensure emissions reduction goals are achieved. Emission reductions that are due to carbon taxes can be difficult to measure, although some jurisdictions have quantified reductions in overall emissions, and other jurisdictions have examined impacts that are due to programs funded by carbon tax revenues.

Feed-in Tariffs and Federal Law

Cover of the Renewable Energy Prices in State-Level Feed-in Tariffs: Federal Law Constraints and Possible Solutions report.

Scott Hempling of the National Regulatory Research Institute, Carolyn Elefant of the Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant, and Kevin Porter of Exeter Associates worked with SEAC analyst Karlynn Cory to publish the report "Renewable Energy Prices in State-Level Feed-in Tariffs: Federal Law Constraints and Possible Solutions" (PDF 1.2 MB).
State legislatures and state utility commissions trying to attract renewable energy projects are considering feed-in tariffs, which obligate retail utilities to purchase electricity from renewable producers under standard arrangements specifying prices, terms, and conditions. However, some argue that federal law—including the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and the Federal Power Act of 1935 (FPA)—constrain state-level feed-in tariffs. This report seeks to reduce the legal uncertainties for states contemplating feed-in tariffs by explaining the constraints imposed by federal statutes. It describes the federal constraints, identifies transaction pathways that are free of those constraints (under existing law), and offers ways for state and federal policymakers to interpret or modify existing law to remove or reduce these constraints. If policymakers want to facilitate and simplify state-level feed-in tariffs, this report also proposes options for revising these federal statutes.

Policies on Net Metering

Cover from the Net Metering Policy Development and Distributed Solar Generation in Minnesota: Overview of Trends in Nationwide Policy Development and Implications of Increasing the Eligible System Size Cap report.

SEAC analysts Elizabeth Doris, Sarah Busche, and Stephen Hockett recently published the report "Net Metering Policy Development and Distributed Solar Generation in Minnesota: Overview of Trends in Nationwide Policy Development and Implications of Increasing the Eligible System Size Cap" (PDF 1.1 MB).
The goal of the Minnesota net metering policy is to give the maximum possible encouragement to distributed generation assets, especially solar electric systems. However, according to a published set of best practices that prioritize the maximum development of solar markets within states, the Minnesota policy does not incorporate many of the important best practices that may help other states transform their solar energy markets and increase the amount of grid-connected distributed solar generation assets. Reasons cited include the low system size limit of 40kW (the best practices document recommends a 2 MW limit) and a lack of language protecting generators from additional utility fees. This study was conducted to compare Minnesota's policies to national best practices. It provides an overview of the current Minnesota policy in the context of these best practices and other jurisdictions' net metering policies, as well as a qualitative assessment of the impacts of raising the system size cap within the policy based on the experiences of other states.

U.S. Energy Efficiency Policy

Cover from the Energy Efficiency Policy in the United States: Overview of Trends at Different Levels of Government report.

SEAC analysts Elizabeth Doris, Jaquelin Cochran, and Martin Vorum published the report "Energy Efficiency Policy in the United States: Overview of Trends at Different Levels of Government" (PDF 1.5 MB).
This report catalogs by sector—buildings, transportation, industrial, and power—energy efficiency policies at the federal, state, and local levels, and identifies some prominent policy trends. Four key findings emerged from this report: 1) leadership on energy efficiency is necessary—and is found—at each level of government; 2) there is no widely accepted methodology for evaluating energy efficiency policies; 3) coordination among the three levels of government—and across sectors—is increasingly important, and there are opportunities to significantly improve policy performance through a unified strategy; and 4) there are efficiencies to be gained by informing policies in one sector with experience from others.

State RE Market Potential

Cover from the A Framework for State-Level Renewable Energy Market Potential Studies report.

SEAC analysts Claire Kreycik, Laura Vimmerstedt, and Elizabeth Doris recently published the report "A Framework for State-Level Renewable Energy Market Potential Studies" (PDF 565 KB).
State-level policymakers are relying on estimates of the market potential for renewable energy resources as they set goals and develop policies to accelerate the development of these resources. Therefore, accuracy of such estimates should be understood and possibly improved to appropriately support these decisions. This document provides a framework and next steps for state officials who require estimates of renewable energy market potential. The report gives insight into how to conduct a market potential study, including what supporting data are needed and what types of assumptions need to be made. The report distinguishes between goal-oriented studies and other types of studies, and explains the benefits of each.

20% Wind by 2024

Screenshot of the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS) Web site.

NREL recently released the results of its Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS). The technical study of future high-penetration wind scenarios was designed to analyze the economic, operational, and technical implications of shifting 20% or more of the Eastern Interconnection's electrical load to wind energy by 2024. The study identified operational best practices and analyzed wind resources, future wind deployment scenarios, and transmission options. The study found, among other things, that the integration of 20% wind energy is technically feasible, but will require significant expansion of the transmission infrastructure and system operational changes in order for it to be realized. Without transmission enhancements, substantial curtailment of wind generation would be required for all 20% wind scenarios studied. For more about the study, access the EWITS section on the NREL Eastern Renewable Generation Integration Study website.

Analysts Meet With Stakeholders

On January 5, representatives from NREL, the Department of Energy (DOE), and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) held their first PACE Working Group meeting in an effort to coordinate property-assessed clean energy (PACE) finance-related activities. The working group, which will meet regularly, is led by Jason Coughlin (NREL), Merrian Fuller (LBNL), and Brandon Belford (DOE).

Analyst Claire Kreycik, of NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis Center, spoke during an informational briefing about feed-in tariff policy on January 21 in Washington, D.C. She was invited by Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington state. Kreycik addressed policy options and experiences other countries have had with feed-in tariffs, and answered questions from the audience of congressional staffers and representatives of energy interest groups.

Doug Arent attended the Global Energy Assessment (GEA) Council meeting in Vienna, Austria, on January 27-28. The council is the advisory body to the GEA Council Co-Presidents Jose Goldemberg and Ged Davis, Co-Chair Thomas Johannson, and Director Nebojsa Nakicenovic. The goal of the GEA is to provide policy-relevant analysis and capacity-enhancing guidance to national governments and intergovernmental organizations, decision-support material to the commercial sector (energy service companies, investors and others), and analysis relevant to academic institutions. The GEA is entering second order draft completion of its report and will complete technical reviews and consultation outreach during FY10.

January 2010

Interstate Commerce for Renewable Power

Cover of the Colorado's Prospects for Interstate Commerce in Renewable Power report.

NREL analyst David Hurlbut recently published the report "Colorado's Prospects for Interstate Commerce in Renewable Power" for the Colorado Governor's Energy Office (GEO) Renewable Energy Development Infrastructure (REDI) Project. (PDF 2.1 MB)
Colorado has more renewable energy potential than it is ever likely to need for its own in-state electricity consumption. Such abundance may suggest an opportunity for the state to sell renewable power elsewhere, but Colorado faces considerable competition from other Western states that may have better resources and easier access to key markets on the West Coast. This report examines factors that will be important to the development of interstate commerce for electricity generated from renewable resources. It also examines market fundamentals in a regional context, and then looks at the implications for Colorado. For more about the project, access the Resource section of the Governor's Energy Office website.

Break-Even Cost for Residential PV

Cover of the Break-Even Cost for Residential Photovoltaics in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities report.

SEAC analysts Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, Sean Ong, and Billy Roberts recently published the report "Break-Even Cost for Residential Photovoltaics in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities." (PDF 1.3 MB)
Grid parity—or break-even cost—for photovoltaic (PV) technology is defined as the point where the cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid. Break-even cost is expressed in dollars per watt ($/W) of an installed system. Achieving break-even cost is a function of many variables. Consequently, break-even costs vary by location and time for a country, such as the United States, with a diverse set of resources, electricity prices, and other variables. In this report, NREL analyzes PV break-even costs for U.S. residential customers. The analysts evaluate some key drivers of grid parity both regionally and over time and also examine the impact of moving from flat to time-of-use (TOU) rates. They also evaluate individual components of the break-even cost, including effect of rate structure and various incentives. Finally, SEAC analysts examine how PV markets might evolve on a regional basis considering the sensitivity of the break-even cost to four major drivers: technical performance, financing parameters, electricity prices and rates, and policies. The analysts find that local incentives rather than "technical" parameters are, in general, the key drivers of the break-even cost of PV. Additionally, this analysis provides insight about the potential viability of PV markets.

Financing Renewable Energy Projects

Cover from the Financing Public Sector Projects with Clean Renewable Energy Bonds report.

NREL recently released the third in its series of fact sheets on financing renewable energy projects — this one discusses clean renewable energy bonds. Upcoming topics include property assessments. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Karlynn Cory.

Financing Public Sector Projects with Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (PDF 448 KB)
Clean renewable energy bonds (CREBs) present a low-cost opportunity for public entities to issue bonds to finance renewable energy projects. The federal government lowers the cost of debt by providing a tax credit to the bondholders in lieu of interest payments from the issuer. Because CREBs are theoretically interest free, they may be more attractive than traditional tax-exempt municipal bonds. In February 2009, Congress appropriated $2.4 billion for the "New CREBs" program. No more than one-third of the budget may be allocated to each of the eligible entities: (1) governmental bodies, (2) electric cooperatives, and (3) public power providers. While the total budget has been allocated by the Internal Revenue Service, this fact sheet explains the CREBs mechanism and provides guidance on procedures related to issuing CREBs.

Open Energy Information Site

Screenshot of the Open Energy Information (OpenEI) website.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has launched Open Energy Information, a new open-source Web platform that makes DOE resources and "open" energy data widely available to the public. NREL staff worked closely with DOE to develop and populate the Open Energy Information (OpenEI) platform. The site currently houses more than 60 clean energy resources and data sets, including maps of worldwide solar and wind potential, information on climate zones, and resources on best practices. The data and tools housed on the free, editable, and evolving wiki-platform will be used by government officials, the private sector, project developers, the international community, and others to help deploy clean energy technologies across the country and around the world. Members of the American public and the global energy community can upload additional data to the site and download information in easy-to-use formats. The site will also provide technical resources, including U.S. lab tools, which can be used by developing countries as they move toward clean energy deployment. Over time, the portal is expected to include online training and technical expert networks. NREL will continue to develop, monitor, and maintain the platform.

Analysts Meet With Stakeholders

Doug Arent, Dan Bilello, and Ron Benioff of NREL attended the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 6-13. SEAC Director Doug Arent discussed the status of renewable energy during an event hosted by the European Commission. NREL representatives also presented DOE/EERE-sponsored work on clean energy technology cooperation options under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during a side event. The group demonstrated the OpenEI portal (see related item above) at a joint event with DOE and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). SEAC representatives conducted meetings with key NREL partners to advance joint work, and assisted the DOE and USAID representatives in evaluation of UNFCCC climate technology programs and preparation of related concepts. They also met with key international institutions interested in joining CLEAN — Coordinated Low Emission Assistance Network — and discussed the new international clean energy analysis "gateway" for developing countries that NREL has established with DOE/EERE support.

On December 9, Bobi Garrett (NREL senior vice president of Outreach, Planning, and Analysis) met with representatives of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and provided a tour of NREL's research facilities. DLR and NREL partner on concentrating solar power (CSP) technology development and solar resource assessment analyses.

NREL analyst Barry Friedman worked with DOE to help establish four collaborative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the United States and Israel. With financial support of DOE and the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures, the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation competitively selected the finalists for the cooperative clean energy projects. The BIRD Executive Committee made the project selections during a meeting at the NREL offices in Washington, D.C.