News Archive 2011
- 2010 Data Book
- Economic Thresholds for Installing Solar PV
- Benefits of Renewable Energy at Brunswick Naval Air Station
- Green Power Status Report
- Geopressured Geothermal Resource of the Wilcox and Frio Formations
- Developer Website Provides RE Data for Web and Mobile Apps
- Virgin Islands Energy Road Map
- Estimates of GHG Emissions from CSP
- Parabolic Trough CSP Life Cycle Assessment
- SAM Biomass Manual
- Nationwide Utility Rates Available on OpenEI
- Texas Wind Energy
- PV in Colorado Irrigation Fields
- Compressed Air Energy Storage Value
- U.S. Residential Solar Water Heating
- PV at Refuse Hideaway Landfill
- PV on Landfills in Puerto Rico
- UN Secretary General: "I Fully Support Your Work"
- Renewable Energy Certificates and New Project Development
- Best Options for PV at California Schools
- Solar PV at Massachusetts Military Reservation
- NREL Participates in World Bank High-Level Meeting on Low Emission Development Policy Implementation
- Report Examines Cost Models in CREST
- Caps, Other Elements Limit FIT Policy Costs
- Storage Increases Capacity Value of CSP Plants
- Coordinated Low Emissions Assistance Network
- Wyoming Jobs and Economic Development
- RE-Powering America's Land
- PV in Puerto Rico
- Alternative Fuel Stations
- Clean Energy Solutions Center Website
- PV Cost Models
- Clean Energy Deployment
- Attitudes about Renewable Energy
- Breakthrough Clean Energy Innovation
- Wyoming Jobs and Economic Development
- JEDI MHK Reference Guide
- Floating Platform Concepts Modeling Tool
- Community Solar Guide
- Solar Powering Your Community
- LCA of Gasoline and Diesel
- Energy Plans in Denver and Austin
- Water Use in Electricity Generating Technologies
- U.S. Residential Solar Water Heating
- Southeast Clean Energy
- State of the States
- Afghanistan Biomass
- Achieving Carbon Goals
- QECBs Used in Yolo County
- Solar Guidebooks
- Clean Energy Policies
- RE-Powering America's Land
- Geospatial Toolkit
- PVWatts Viewer
- Open Energy Information (OpenEI)
- Innovative Research Analysis Award Program Awardees
2010 Data Book
This Renewable Energy Data Book for 2010 provides facts and figures on energy in general, renewable electricity in the United States, global renewable energy development, wind power, solar energy, geothermal power, biopower, hydropower, advanced water power, hydrogen, renewable fuels, and clean energy investments.
Title: "2010 Renewable Energy Data Book"
Project Manager: Rachel Gelman, NREL
Economic Thresholds for Installing Solar PV
Photovoltaic (PV) systems are installed by several types of market participants, ranging from residential customers to large-scale project developers and utilities. Each type of market participant frequently uses a different economic performance metric to characterize PV value because they are looking for different types of returns from a PV investment. This report finds that different economic performance metrics frequently show different price thresholds for when a PV investment becomes profitable or attractive. As such, the choice of economic performance metric by different customer types can significantly shape each customer's perception of PV investment value and ultimately their adoption decision.
Title: "The Impact of Different Economic Performance Metrics on the Perceived Value of Solar Photovoltaics"
Authors: Easan Drury, Paul Denholm, and Robert Margolis, NREL
Benefits of Renewable Energy at Brunswick Naval Air Station
The Brunswick Naval Air Station is a naval air facility and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) superfund site that is being cleaned up and decommissioned. The objective of this report is not only to look at the economics of individual renewable energy technologies but also to look at the systemic benefits that can be gained when cost-effective renewable energy technologies are integrated with other systems and businesses in a community, thus multiplying the total monetary, employment, and quality-of-life benefits they can provide to a community.
Title: "Using Net-Zero Energy Projects to Enable Sustainable Economic Redevelopment at the Former Brunswick Air Naval Base"
Author: Scott Huffman, NREL
Project Manager: Gail Mosey, NREL
Green Power Status Report
This report documents the status and trends of "compliance"—renewable energy certificate (REC) markets used to meet state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements—and "voluntary" markets—those in which consumers and institutions purchase renewable energy to match their electricity needs on a voluntary basis—in the United States. Today, 29 states and the District of Columbia have an RPS, more than half of all U.S. electricity customers have an option to purchase some type of green power product directly from a retail electricity provider, and all consumers have the option to purchase RECs. The compliance REC market analysis includes analysis of REC trading, regional REC markets, REC tracking systems, types of compliance RECs, compliance REC pricing trends, and an overview of compliance with RPS polices. The voluntary REC analysis presents data and analysis on voluntary market sales and customer participation, products and premiums, green pricing marketing and administrative expenses, voluntary REC pricing, and the voluntary carbon offsets market. The report concludes with a discussion of upcoming guidance from the Federal Trade Commission on green marketing claims, the emergence of community solar programs, and the potential impact of Dodd-Frank regulations on the REC market.
Title: "Status and Trends in U.S. Compliance and Voluntary Renewable Energy Certificate Markets (2010 Data)"
Authors: Jenny Heeter and Lori Bird, NREL
Geopressured Geothermal Resource of the Wilcox and Frio Formations
An estimate of the total and recoverable geopressured geothermal resource of the fairways in the Wilcox and Frio formations is made using the current data available. The flow rate of water and methane for wells located in the geopressured geothermal fairways is simulated over a 20-year period utilizing the TOUGH2 Reservoir Simulator and research data. The model incorporates relative permeability, capillary pressure, rock compressibility, and leakage from the bounding shale layers. The simulations show that permeability, porosity, pressure, sandstone thickness, well spacing, and gas saturation in the sandstone have a significant impact on the percent of energy recovered. The results also predict lower average well production flow rates and a significantly higher production of natural gas relative to water than in previous studies done from 1975 to 1980. Previous studies underestimate the amount of methane produced with hot brine. Based on the work completed in this study, multiphase flow processes and reservoir boundary conditions greatly influence the total quantity of the fluid produced as well as the ratio of gas and water in the produced fluid.
Title: "Geopressured Geothermal Resource and Recoverable Energy Estimate for the Wilcox and Frio Formations, Texas"
Authors: Ariel Esposito and Chad Augustine, NREL
Developer Website Provides RE Data for Web and Mobile Apps
NREL recently launched a new website, developer.nrel.gov, that provides data on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and alternative transportation to developers of mobile and Web applications.
Available now is a comprehensive, nationwide list of alternative vehicle fueling station locations, including those that supply electricity and biodiesel, ethanol, and natural gas. Coming soon: Federal and state laws and incentives related to alternative fuel vehicles and electric vehicles and datasets for wind and solar energy. To learn when new datasets become available, follow developer.nrel.gov on Twitter@NRELdev.
Virgin Islands Energy Road Map
This report lays out the strategy envisioned by the stakeholders in the U.S. Virgin Islands, DOE, and U.S. Department of Interior to achieve the ambitious goal of achieving a 60% reduction in fossil fuel demand within the islands' electricity sector by 2025. This work and supporting analysis provide a framework for project decision making, lay out a vision of what the future might hold, and include guidance to determine what questions should follow.
Title: "U.S. Virgin Islands Energy Road Map: Analysis"
Authors: Eric Lantz, Dan Olis, and Adam Warren, NREL
Estimates of GHG Emissions from CSP
This analysis focuses on clarifying central tendency and reducing variability in estimates of life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) systems through a meta-analytical process called harmonization. From 125 references reviewed, 10 produced 36 independent GHG emission estimates passing screens for quality and relevance: 19 for parabolic trough technology and 17 for power tower technology. The interquartile range (IQR) of published GHG emission estimates was 83 and 20 g CO2eq/kWh for trough and tower, respectively, with medians of 26 and 38 g CO2eq/kWh. Two levels of harmonization were applied. Light harmonization reduced variability in published estimates by using consistent values for key parameters pertaining to plant design and performance. Compared to the published estimates, IQR was reduced by 69% and median increased by 76% for troughs. IQR was reduced by 26% for towers, and median was reduced by 34%. A second level of harmonization was applied to five well-documented trough life cycle GHG emission estimates, harmonizing to consistent values for GHG emissions embodied in materials and from construction activities. As a result, their median was further reduced by 5%, while the range increased by 6%. In sum, harmonization clarified previous results.
Title: "Meta-Analysis of Estimates of Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Concentrating Solar Power: Preprint"
Authors: Garvin A. Heath, NREL, and John J. Burkhardt III, Abengoa Solar
Parabolic Trough CSP Life Cycle Assessment
Climate change and water scarcity are important issues for today's power sector. To inform capacity expansion decisions, hybrid life cycle assessment is used to evaluate a reference design of a parabolic trough CSP facility located in Daggett, California, along four sustainability metrics: life cycle GHG emissions, water consumption, cumulative energy demand (CED), and energy payback time (EPBT). This wet-cooled, 103 MW plant utilizes mined nitrate salts in its two-tank, thermal energy storage (TES) system. Design alternatives of dry-cooling, a thermocline TES, and synthetically-derived nitrate salt are evaluated. During its life cycle, the reference CSP plant is estimated to emit 26 g CO2e/kWh, consume 4.7 L/kWh of water, and demand 0.40 MJeq/kWh of energy, resulting in an EPBT of approximately 1 year. The dry-cooled alternative is estimated to reduce life cycle water consumption by 77% but increase life cycle GHG emissions and CED by 8%. Synthetic nitrate salts may increase life cycle GHG emissions by 52% compared to mined. Switching from two-tank to thermocline TES configuration reduces life cycle GHG emissions, most significantly for plants using synthetically derived nitrate salts. CSP can significantly reduce GHG emissions compared to fossil-fueled generation; however, dry-cooling may be required in many locations to minimize water consumption.
Title: "Life Cycle Assessment of a Parabolic Trough Concentrating Solar Power Plant and Impacts of Key Design Alternatives: Preprint"
Author: Garvin A. Heath, NREL; John J. Burkhardt III, Abengoa Solar; and Craig S. Turchi, NREL
SAM Biomass Manual
This technical manual provides context for the implementation of the biomass electric power generation performance model in NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM). The report details the engineering and scientific principles behind the underlying calculations in the model. The framework established in this manual is designed to give users a complete understanding of behind-the-scenes calculations and the results generated.
Title: "Technical Manual for the SAM Biomass Power Generation Model"
Authors: Jennie Jorgenson, Paul Gilman, and Aron Dobos, NREL
Nationwide Utility Rates Available on OpenEI
The Open Energy Information (EI) Utilities Gateway is a free, national utility rate database built on a wiki platform that is maintained at NREL. Users can view, edit, and add new electric utility rates. The database has more than 470 rates, and more are added each day. In addition, maps and other visualizations summarize the data in a meaningful way. The project was led by Barry Friedman and Sean Ong.
Illinois State University recently received a DOE SunShot Initiative award of over $1 million to populate the utility rates database with additional utility rates over the next few years in order to accelerate the population of the Open EI utility rate repository.
The Data Analysis and Visualization (DAV) group, with Dan Getman leading the project, in conjunction with the PV Reliability team led by Sarah Kurtz, recently released PVDAQ, a Web-based tool designed to provide access to photovoltaic (PV) system performance data collected by NREL from systems all over the country. These data will be available in a map view, in tabular view, and for download based on user specifications.
Texas Wind Energy
Texas has approximately 9,727 MW of wind energy capacity installed, making it a global leader in installed wind energy. This report analyzes the jobs and economic impacts of 1,000 MW of wind power generation in the state. The findings are scalable and can be used to inform policy and planning in Texas and other states.
According to this analysis, 1,000 MW of wind power development:
- Generates more than 2,100 full-time-equivalent jobs and nearly $260 million in economic activity in Texas during construction periods
- Supports approximately 240 permanent Texas jobs
- Generates nearly $35 million in annual Texas economic activity during operating periods, including more than $7 million in annual property taxes and nearly $5 million annually in income for Texas landowners who lease their land for wind energy projects.
Title: "Economic Development Impact of 1,000 MW of Wind Energy in Texas"
Authors: Sandra Reategui and Stephen Hendrickson, NREL
PV in Colorado Irrigation Fields
The State of Colorado expressed an interest in assessing the potential for photovoltaic (PV) solar installations on non-irrigated corners of center pivot irrigation (CPI) fields throughout the state. Using aerial imagery and irrigated land data available from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, NREL assessed potentially suitable sites and found potential for 56,821 GWH in annual electricity production from 223,418 acres of land across the state.
Title: "Potential for Photovoltaic Solar Installation in Non-Irrigated Corners of Center Pivot Irrigation Fields in the State of Colorado"
Authors: Billy Roberts, NREL
Compressed Air Energy Storage Value
NREL developed a co-optimized Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) dispatch model to characterize the value of providing operating reserves in addition to energy arbitrage in several U.S. markets. The study finds that conventional CAES systems could earn an additional $23 ± 10/kW-yr by providing operating reserves, and adiabatic CAES systems could earn an additional $28 ± 13/kW-yr. The study finds that arbitrage-only revenues are unlikely to support a CAES investment in most market locations, but the addition of reserve revenues could support a conventional CAES investment in several markets. Adiabatic CAES revenues are not likely to support an investment in most regions studied.
Title: "The Value of Compressed Air Energy Storage in Energy and Reserve Markets"
Source: Energy. Vol. 36(8) August 2011
Author: Easan Drury and Paul Denholm, NREL; Ramteen Sioshansi, Ohio State University
U.S. Residential Solar Water Heating
U.S. consumers use more than 120 billion kWh per year of electricity for heating water. This paper examines the regional, technical, and economic performance of residential rooftop solar water heating (SWH) technology in the United States. For a typical residential consumer, a SWH system will reduce water heating energy demand by 50%–85%, which corresponds to an annual electric bill savings of about $100 to more than $300, reflecting the large range in residential electricity prices. This paper also examines the relationship between collector area and technical performance, the relationship between SWH price and solar fraction, and the key drivers behind break-even costs.
Title: "Technical and Economic Performance of Residential Solar Water Heating in the United States"
Source: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Vol. 15(8) October 2011
Author: Hannah Cassard, Paul Denholm, and Sean Ong, NREL
PV at Refuse Hideaway Landfill
NREL released a report from a series that highlights studies conducted for the Environmental Protection Agency under the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative, which looks at opportunities for siting renewable energy on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites. The analysis project, led by Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC) analyst Gail Mosey, assessed the technical and economic feasibility of expanding the PV system in place at the Refuse Hideaway Landfill in Middleton, Wisconsin, using a crystalline silicon (fixed tilt or single axis) or thin-film fixed-tilt system. The economics of the potential systems were analyzed using an electric rate of $0.13/kWh and incentives offered by the State of Wisconsin and by the serving utility, Madison Gas and Electric. The Refuse Hideaway Landfill was determined a feasible location to expand their solar PV system.
Title: "Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Refuse Hideaway Landfill in Middleton, Wisconsin. A Study Prepared in Partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency for the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative: Siting Renewable Energy on Potentially Contaminated Land and Mine Sites"
Authors: James Salasovich and Gail Mosey, NREL
PV on Landfills in Puerto Rico
NREL released a report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program (WIP) Technical Assistance Program (TAP) assessing the potential for solar on landfills in Puerto Rico. The analysis project was led by SEAC analyst Gail Mosey. NREL assessed the technical and economic feasibility of deploying a solar PV system on landfill sites in Puerto Rico and estimated the cost, performance, and site impacts of three different PV options: crystalline silicon (fixed tilt), crystalline silicon (single-axis tracking), and thin film (fixed tilt). The landfills and sites considered in this report were all determined feasible areas in which to implement solar PV systems.
Title: "Feasibility Study of Solar Photovoltaics on Landfills in Puerto Rico [Second Study]. A Study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program Technical Assistance Program on behalf of the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board"
Authors: James Salasovich and Gail Mosey, NREL
UN Secretary General: "I Fully Support Your Work"
SEAC capabilities and staff were front and center when the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited NREL on August 24 to learn more about how the laboratory and international community could work together on energy issues. Ron Benioff, manager of International Programs at NREL, told Ban that NREL is working with 50 countries, ranging from biofuels partnerships with Brazil, to solar work in China and Europe, to helping island nations integrate solar and wind power into their electric grids. The Secretary heard presentations about SEAC's analysis capabilities and international projects, and Jaquelin Cochran presented NREL's work to support country low emission development strategies, the Clean Energy Solutions Center, and related initiatives. Other SEAC staff who played key roles in planning for and during the Secretary's visit include Dan Bilello, Sadie Cox, David Kline, Andrew Martinez, Anelia Milbrandt, Mackay Miller, Sandra Reategui, Walter Short, and Bill Wallace.
Renewable Energy Certificates and New Project Development
Over the past decade, renewable energy certificates (RECs) have become a common way to track ownership of the renewable and environmental attributes of renewable electricity generation. But what role do RECs play in the decision to build new renewable energy projects? Information from a variety of market participants suggests that the importance of RECs varies depending on a number of factors, including electricity market prices, the cost-competitiveness of the project, the presence or absence of public policies supportive of new projects, contract duration, and the perspective of different market participants. To strengthen the role RECs play in both compliance and voluntary markets, there are a number of options that could be considered, including: mechanisms to encourage long-term contracts, auctions, price floors, direct investment in projects, and greater price transparency.
Title: "The Role of Renewable Energy Certificates in Developing New Renewable Energy Projects"
Authors: Edward Holt, Ed Holt & Associates, Inc.; Jenny Sumner and Lori Bird, NREL
Best Options for PV at California Schools
Schools in California often have a choice of multiple electricity rates. Choosing the right rate is essential to maximizing the value of photovoltaic (PV) installations. By evaluating 22 rate structures offered by three of California's largest electric utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric—this report identifies common rate structure attributes that are favorable to PV installations.
Key findings include:
- The best electricity rate for a school depends on the amount of PV capacity installed. The rate structure that minimizes the school's electricity expenses prior to a PV installation still remains the best rate after a PV system is installed, as long as the system is small compared to the school's electric load. Other rates become more economical than the initial rate for larger PV system sizes.
- When a school's PV installation is large, rates with high daytime prices are favorable. The best rates for schools with relatively large PV systems are those with very high afternoon energy prices and little or no demand charges. However, when the PV installation is small, these expensive rates increase the school's annual electricity expenses, even with the PV system helping to offset costs.
- The best size for a school's PV system depends on the available rate options. When evaluating the economics of a PV system, bigger is not always better. In San Diego, the best PV system is one that is sized to meet about 10% of a school's annual electric load.
- With the best rates considered, power purchase agreements (PPAs) may be a better option for schools than cash purchases.
Title: "Maximizing the Value of Photovoltaic Installations on Schools in California: Choosing the Best Electricity Rates"
Authors: Sean Ong and Paul Denholm, NREL
Solar PV at Massachusetts Military Reservation
This report presents the results of an assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of deploying photovoltaics (PV) systems on a superfund site located within the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR). 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 $0.159/kWh and incentives offered in the State of Massachusetts, such as the solar renewable energy credits. Four sites were considered and found suitable to incorporate PV systems at MMR—three landfill caps and a borrow pit. According to calculations, MMR can place 8 MW of ballast-weighted, ground-mounted PV systems on the crowns of the three landfill caps and the borrow pit with the PV modules tilted at 30 degrees.
Title: "Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at Massachusetts Military Reservation. A Study Prepared in Partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency for the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative: Siting Renewable Energy on Potentially Contaminated Land and Mine Sites"
Authors: Byron Stafford, Robi Robichaud, and Gail Mosey, NREL
NREL Participates in World Bank High-Level Meeting on Low Emission Development Policy Implementation
Ron Benioff presented NREL's work on the Clean Energy Solutions Center, CLEAN, and the LEDS Collaborative Working Group at the World Bank high-level event on July 13. This event highlighted the need to scale up support for low emission development strategies including capacity building, peer networks and knowledge platforms, and delivery of an integrated portfolio of services and assistance to developing countries. Various specific recommendations for work across countries and international institutions were provided and the World Bank and others will now determine appropriate next steps.
Report Examines Cost Models in CREST
A new subcontract report serves as a resource for policymakers who wish to learn more about levelized cost of energy (LCOE) calculations, including cost-based incentives. The report identifies key renewable energy cost modeling options, highlights the policy implications of choosing one approach over the other, and presents recommendations on the optimal characteristics of a model to calculate rates for cost-based incentives, feed-in tariffs (FITs), or similar policies. According to the report, effective cost models:
- Allow for simple, intermediate, or complex installed cost inputs so that the model is useful in the full range of potential policymaking
- Enable recognition of the full range of typical financing and development costs
- Focus on after-tax returns, assuming that investors can monetize tax incentives
- Enable consideration of the most common federal and state incentives.
These recommendations shaped the design of NREL's Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST), which is used by state policymakers, regulators, utilities, developers, and other stakeholders to assist with analyses of policy and renewable energy incentive payment structures.
Title: "Renewable Energy Cost Modeling: A Toolkit for Establishing Cost-Based Incentives in the United States"
Authors: Jason S. Gifford and Robert C. Grace, Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC, and Wilson H. Rickerson, Meister Consultants Group, Inc.
NREL technical monitor: Karlynn Cory
Caps, Other Elements Limit FIT Policy Costs
FITs are the most prevalent policy used globally to reduce development risks, cut financing costs, and grow the renewable energy industry. However, concerns over escalating costs in jurisdictions with FIT policies have led to increased attention on cost control. Using case studies and market-focused analysis, this report examines strengths and weaknesses of three cost-containment tools: (1) caps, (2) payment level adjustment mechanisms, and (3) auction-based designs. The report provides useful insights on containing costs for policymakers and regulators in the United States and other areas where FIT policies are in development.
The report finds:
- Caps are commonly used in FIT policies and provide a predictable limit on program costs. However, program size caps can introduce access risk for developers, meaning that there is uncertainty regarding whether or not a developer will be able to access the FIT payments. Additionally, project size caps can limit the ability of a market to achieve economies of scale.
- Payment level adjustment mechanisms help deal with the particularly thorny issue of setting appropriate payment levels and can help keep FIT payment levels aligned with market realities over time. If designed well, these mechanisms can also provide valuable information about future price levels. Though not sufficient to contain costs on their own, payment level adjustments can help prevent markets from getting overheated, a central aspect of cost containment policy.
- Auction-based pricing can be applied to a FIT policy framework or in place of a FIT. Auctions can be a relatively flexible way of procuring new electrical supply, and auctioneers can initiate auctions for particular types of generation capacity: regional, technology-specific, or based on load characteristics. However, there are material challenges associated with implementing auctions for new renewable energy projects with differing characteristics, different timing of commercial operation, and differing completion or performance risk. In order to be functionally competitive, the market must be sufficiently deep and liquid and the product being auctioned must be relatively homogenous both in definition and performance risk.
Title: "Innovative Feed-In Tariff Designs that Limit Policy Costs"
Authors: Claire Kreycik, NREL; Toby D. Couture, E3 Analytics; and Karlynn S. Cory, NREL
Storage Increases Capacity Value of CSP Plants
This study estimates the capacity value of a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant at a variety of locations within the western United States. The authors optimize operation of CSP plants and utilize the effective load carrying capability (ELCC) metric, a standard reliability-based technique for estimating capacity value. Although the ELCC metric is the most accurate estimation technique, the authors show that a simpler method using capacity factors closely estimates the ELCC value. Without storage, the capacity value of CSP plants varies widely, from 45%-90% with a solar multiple range of 1.0-1.5. The authors find that adding thermal energy storage (TES), even just one hour, to a CSP plant can increase capacity value at all of the locations, and four hours of storage or more boosts average capacity value at all locations above 90%.
Title: "Capacity Value of Concentrating Solar Power Plants"
Authors: Seyed Hossein Madaeni and Ramteen Sioshansi, Ohio State University, and Paul Denholm, NREL
Coordinated Low Emissions Assistance Network
NREL analyst Sadie Cox and International Program Manager Ron Benioff published the technical report "International Assistance for Low-Emission Development Planning: Coordinated Low Emissions Assistance Network (CLEAN) Inventory of Activities and Tools—Preliminary Trends." The Coordinated Low Emissions Assistance Network (CLEAN) is a voluntary network of international practitioners supporting low-emission planning in developing countries. The network seeks to improve quality of support by sharing project information, tools, best practices and lessons, and by fostering harmonized assistance. CLEAN has developed an inventory to track and analyze international technical support and tools for low-carbon planning activities in developing countries. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of the inventory to help identify trends in assistance activities and tools available to support developing countries with low-emission planning.
Wyoming Jobs and Economic Development
SEAC analyst Eric Lantz published the fact sheet "Jobs and Economic Development from New Transmission and Generation in Wyoming," as a supplement to the related technical report published by Eric Lantz and Suzanne Tegen in March. Wyoming is a significant energy exporter, producing nearly 40% of the nation's coal and 10% of the nation's natural gas. Opportunities to add new energy exports in the form of power generation are limited by insufficient transmission capacity. This fact sheet summarizes results from a recent analysis conducted by NREL for the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) that estimates jobs and economic development activity that could occur in Wyoming should the market support new investments in power generation and transmission in the state.
RE-Powering America's Land
NREL released two reports from a series that highlights studies conducted with the Environmental Protection Agency for the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative, which looks at opportunities for siting renewable energy on potentially contaminated land and mine sites. These reports examine the possibilities in Puerto Rico and for alternative fuel stations in the United States. The analysis project is led by SEAC analyst Gail Mosey.
PV in Puerto Rico
NREL's James Salasovich and Gail Mosey published the report "Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico." This report presents the results of an assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of deploying a photovoltaic (PV) system on brownfield sites in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. All of the assessed sites are landfills. Analysts estimated the cost, performance, and site impacts of different PV options and concluded that the most cost-effective system in terms of return on investment is the thin-film fixed-tilt technology. The report recommends financing options that could assist in the implementation of such a system.
Alternative Fuel Stations
NREL's Caley Johnson and Dylan Hettinger, along with SEAC project manager Gail Mosey, published the technical report "Guide for Identifying and Converting High-Potential Petroleum Brownfield Sites to Alternative Fuel Stations." Former gasoline stations that are now classified as brownfields can be good sites to sell alternative fuels because they are in locations that are convenient to vehicles and the owners may be seeking a new source of income. However, successfully transitioning a gasoline station to an alternative fueling station is highly dependent on location-specific criteria. This report defines and prioritizes these criteria, and then applies that assessment framework to five of the most popular alternative fuels—lelectricity, natural gas, hydrogen, ethanol, and biodiesel. The second part of this report delves into the criteria and tools used to assess the viability of specific retail sites. It does this through case studies of converting two Seattle-Eugene area gasoline stations into electric charge stations. The report concludes with materials to help site owners choose and install recharging equipment and navigate the permitting process.
Clean Energy Solutions Center Website
The Clean Energy Solutions Center provides information on policy best practices, trends, and analysis tools. Rather than duplicating existing clean energy resources, the Solutions Center summarizes high-quality policy materials and assists users in identifying and moving the policy levers that will drive clean energy progress in their country. The Solutions Center is designed to be the first stop for comprehensive, high-quality resources on clean energy policies for energy efficient appliances, electric vehicles, building and industrial efficiency, wind and solar power, biopower and biofuels, smart grid, and low carbon communities, among other topics. It also offers peer-to-peer learning, remote expert assistance, and online training.
PV Cost Models
NREL analysts Alan Goodrich, Michael Woodhouse, and Ted James recently published the presentation "Solar PV Manufacturing Cost Model Group: Installed Solar PV System Prices." EERE's Solar Energy Technologies Program is charged with leading the Secretary's SunShot Initiative to reduce the cost of electricity from solar by 75% to be cost competitive with conventional energy sources without subsidy by the end of the decade. As part of this Initiative, the program has funded NREL to develop module manufacturing and solar PV system installation cost models to ensure that the program's cost reduction targets are carefully aligned with current and near-term industry costs. The NREL cost analysis team has leveraged the laboratory's extensive experience in the areas of project finance and deployment, as well as industry partnerships, to develop cost models that mirror the tools used by leading U.S. installers. The cost models are constructed through a "bottoms-up" assessment of each major cost element, beginning with the system's bill of materials, labor requirements (type and hours) by component, site-specific charges, and soft costs. In addition to the relevant engineering, procurement, and construction costs, the models also consider all relevant costs to an installer, including labor burdens and overhead rates, supply chain costs, and overhead and materials inventory costs and assume market-specific profits.
Clean Energy Deployment
Charles Kubert and Mark Sinclair of Clean Energy States Alliance, under NREL technical monitor Karlynn Cory, recently published the subcontract report "State Support for Clean Energy Deployment: Lessons Learned for Potential Future Policy." Proposed federal clean energy initiatives and climate legislation have suggested significant increases to federal funding for clean energy deployment and investment. Many states and utilities have more than a decade of experience and spend billions of dollars every year to support EE/RE deployment through programs that reduce the cost of technologies, provide financing for EE/RE projects, offer technical assistance, and educate market participants. Meanwhile, constraints on public expenditures at all levels of government continue to call upon such programs to demonstrate their value. This report reviews the results of specific incentives and financing tools used to encourage clean energy investment. Lessons from such programs could be used to inform the future application of EE/RE incentives and financing tools.
Attitudes about Renewable Energy
Natural Marketing Institute, under Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC) technical monitors Lori Bird and Jenny Sumner, recently published the subcontract report "Consumer Attitudes about Renewable Energy: Trends and Regional Differences." The data in this report are taken from Natural Marketing Institute's (NMI's) Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability Consumer Trends Database. Created in 2002, the syndicated consumer database contains responses from 2,000 to 4,000 U.S. adults each year. The survey sample is nationally representative, meaning respondent demographics are consistent with U.S. Census findings. NMI used the database to analyze consumer attitudes and behavior related to renewable energy and to update earlier research. Specifically, this report will explore consumer awareness, concerns, perceived benefits, knowledge of purchase options, and usage of renewable energy. The report also provides regional comparisons and trends over time.
Breakthrough Clean Energy Innovation
SEAC analysts Thomas D. Perry IV and Mackay Miller, along with Lee Fleming of Harvard Business School, Kenneth Younge of the University of Colorado, and James Newcomb, formerly of NREL and now with Rocky Mountain Institute, recently published the technical report "Clean Energy Innovation: Sources of Technical and Commercial Breakthroughs." Low-carbon energy innovation is essential to combat climate change, promote economic competitiveness, and achieve energy security. Using U.S. patent data and additional patent-relevant data collected from the Internet, the analysts map the landscape of low-carbon energy innovation in the United States since 1975. In the report, they isolate 10,603 renewable and 10,442 traditional energy patents and develop a database that characterizes proxy measures for technical and commercial impact, as measured by patent citations and Web presence, respectively. Regression models and multivariate simulations are used to compare the social, institutional, and geographic drivers of breakthrough clean energy innovation. Results indicate statistically significant effects of social, institutional, and geographic variables on technical and commercial impacts of patents and unique innovation trends between different energy technologies. The analysts observe important differences between patent citations and Web presence of licensed and unlicensed patents, indicating the potential utility of using screened Web hits as a measure of commercial importance. The writers also offer hypotheses for these revealed differences and suggest a research agenda with which to test these hypotheses. These preliminary findings indicate that leveraging empirical insights to better target research expenditures would augment the speed and scale of innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies.
Wyoming Jobs and Economic Development
SEAC analysts Eric Lantz and Suzanne Tegen recently published the technical report "Jobs and Economic Development from New Transmission and Generation in Wyoming." This report is intended to inform policymakers, local government officials, and Wyoming residents about the jobs and economic development activity that could occur should new infrastructure investments in Wyoming move forward. The report and analysis presented is not a projection or a forecast of what will happen. Instead, the report uses a hypothetical deployment scenario and economic modeling tools to estimate the jobs and economic activity likely associated with these projects if or when they are built.
JEDI MHK Reference Guide
Marshall Goldberg of MRG & Associates and Mirko Previsic of RE Vision Consulting, under SEAC technical monitor Suzanne Tegen, recently published the subcontract report "JEDI Marine and Hydrokinetic Model: User Reference Guide." The Jobs and Economic Development Impact Model (JEDI) for Marine and Hydrokinetics (MHK) is a user-friendly spreadsheet-based tool designed to demonstrate the economic impacts associated with developing and operating MHK power systems in the United States. The JEDI MHK User Reference Guide was developed to assist users in using and understanding the model. This guide provides information on the model's underlying methodology, as well as the sources and parameters used to develop the cost data utilized in the model. This guide also provides basic instruction on model add-in features, operation of the model, and a discussion of how the results should be interpreted.
Floating Platform Concepts Modeling Tool
NREL recently published the fact sheet "New Modeling Tool Analyzes Floating Platform Concepts for Offshore Wind Turbines." Researchers at NREL developed a new complex modeling and analysis tool capable of analyzing floating platform concepts for offshore wind turbines. The new modeling tool combines the computational methodologies used to analyze land-based wind turbines with the comprehensive hydrodynamic computer programs developed for offshore oil and gas industries. This new coupled dynamic simulation tool will enable the development of cost-effective offshore technologies capable of harvesting the rich offshore wind resources at water depths that cannot be reached using the current technology.
Community Solar Guide
EERE recently published "A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-profit Project Development." This guide is designed as a resource for those who want to develop community solar projects, including community organizers, solar energy advocates, government officials, and utility managers.
Solar Powering Your Community
The EERE Solar Energy Technologies Program recently published "Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments, Second Edition." DOE designed this guide to assist local government officials and stakeholders in designing and implementing strategic local solar plans. The 2011 edition contains the most recent lessons and successes from the 25 Solar America Cities and other communities promoting solar energy. Because DOE recognizes that there is no one path to solar market development, this guide introduces a range of policy and program options that can help a community build a local solar infrastructure.
SEAC analyst David Hsu recently published the report "Life Cycle Assessment of Gasoline and Diesel Produced via Fast Pyrolysis and Hydroprocessing." In this work, a life cycle assessment (LCA) estimating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and net energy value (NEV) of the production of gasoline and diesel from forest residues via fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing, from production of the feedstock to end use of the fuel in a vehicle, is performed. The fast pyrolysis and hydrotreating and hydrocracking processes are based on a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) design report. The LCA results show GHG emissions of 0.142 kg CO2-equiv. per km traveled and NEV of 1.00 MJ per km traveled for a process using grid electricity. Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis shows a range of results, with all values better than those of conventional gasoline in 2005. Results for GHG emissions and NEV of gasoline and diesel from pyrolysis are also reported on a per MJ fuel basis for comparison with ethanol produced via gasification. Although pyrolysis-derived gasoline and diesel have lower GHG emissions and higher NEV than conventional gasoline does in 2005, they underperform ethanol produced via gasification from the same feedstock. GHG emissions for pyrolysis could be lowered further if electricity and hydrogen are produced from biomass instead of from fossil sources.
NREL analyst Dave Peterson, along with Ester Matthews of Austin Climate Protection Program and Michele Weingarden of Greenprint Denver, recently published the report "Local Energy Plans in Practice: Case Studies of Austin and Denver." This report examines the successes and difficulties that two large cities, Denver, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, have experienced in implementing their respective citywide energy plans. The report considers factors that have assisted or hindered putting energy initiatives from each plan into practice, including political, financial, and logistical realities. The report also examines the goals and design of each plan and how throughout the implementation process the cities have altered expectations or the direction of energy initiatives included in the plans. This report provides state and local government policymakers and analysts with a more nuanced understanding of the successes and challenges distinct cities encounter in putting a citywide energy plan into practice.
SEAC analysts Jordan Macknick, Garvin Heath, and KC Hallett and center director Robin Newmark recently published the report "A Review of Operational Water Consumption and Withdrawal Factors for Electricity Generating Technologies." Various studies have attempted to consolidate published estimates of water use impacts of electricity generating technologies, resulting in a wide range of technologies and values based on different primary sources of literature. The goal of this work is to consolidate the various primary literature estimates of water use during the generation of electricity by conventional and renewable electricity generating technologies in the United States to more completely convey the variability and uncertainty associated with water use in electricity generating technologies.
SEAC analysts Hannah Cassard, Paul Denholm, and Sean Ong recently published the report "Break-Even Cost for Residential Solar Water Heating in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities." This paper examines the break-even cost for residential rooftop solar water heating (SWH) technology, defined as the point where the cost of the energy saved with a SWH system equals the cost of a conventional heating fuel purchased from the grid (either electricity or natural gas). We examine the break-even cost for the largest 1,000 electric and natural gas utilities serving residential customers in the United States as of 2008. Currently, the break-even cost of SWH in the United States varies by more than a factor of five for both electricity and natural gas, despite a much smaller variation in the amount of energy saved by the systems (a factor of approximately one and a half). The break-even price for natural gas is lower than that for electricity due to a lower fuel cost. We also consider the relationship between SWH price and solar fraction and examine the key drivers behind break-even costs. Overall, the key drivers of the break-even cost of SWH are a combination of fuel price, local incentives, and technical factors including the solar resource location, system size, and hot water draw.
NREL analyst Joyce McLaren recently published the report "Southeast Regional Clean Energy Policy Analysis," which was funded by DOE's Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program (WIP) and implemented through NREL's Deployment and Market Transformation (D&MT) managed Clean Energy Policy Analysis project. More than half of the electricity produced in the southeastern states is fuelled by coal. Although the region produces some coal, most of the states depend heavily on coal imports. Many of the region's aging coal power facilities are planned for retirement within the next 20 years. However, estimates indicate that a 20% increase in capacity is needed over that time to meet the rapidly growing demand. The most common incentives for energy efficiency in the Southeast are loans and rebates; however, total public spending on energy efficiency is limited. The most common state-level policies to support renewable energy development are personal and corporate tax incentives and loans. The region produced 1.8% of the electricity from renewable resources other than conventional hydroelectricity in 2009, half of the national average. There is significant potential for development of a biomass market in the region, as well as use of local wind, solar, methane-to-energy, small hydro, and combined heat and power resources. Options are offered for expanding and strengthening state-level policies such as decoupling, integrated resource planning, building codes, net metering, and interconnection standards to support further clean energy development. Benefits would include energy security, job creation, insurance against price fluctuations, increased value of marginal lands, and local and global environmental paybacks.
D&MT project leader Elizabeth Doris and SEAC analyst Rachel Gelman recently published "State of the States 2010: The Role of Policy in Clean Energy Market Transformation." This report builds on the emerging body of literature seeking to identify quantitative connections between clean energy policy and renewable energy. The methods presented test the relationships between a broad set of policies and clean energy resources (energy efficiency, biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind). Energy efficiency findings are an initial foray into this type of analysis and indicate significant connections between reduced energy use and buildings codes, energy efficiency resource standards (in some cases), and electricity price. Renewable energy findings specify that there is most often a relationship between state policies and solar and wind development, indicating that while policies might apply to a wide variety of renewable resources, further tailoring of policy specifics to resource needs may lead to increased development of a wider variety of renewable energy resources. Further research is needed to refine the connections between clean energy development and policy, especially in the area of the impact of the length of time that a policy has been in place.
NREL analyst Anelia Milbrandt and NREL emeritus Ralph Overend recently published the report "Assessment of Biomass Resources in Afghanistan." Afghanistan is facing many challenges on its path of reconstruction and development. Among all its pressing needs, the country would benefit from the development and implementation of an energy strategy. In addition to conventional energy sources, the Afghan government is considering alternative options such as energy derived from renewable resources (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal). Biomass energy is derived from a variety of sources—plant-based material and residues—and can be used in various conversion processes to yield power, heat, steam, and fuel. This study provides policymakers and industry developers with information on the biomass resource potential in Afghanistan for power/heat generation and transportation fuels production. To achieve this goal, the study estimates the current biomass resources and evaluates the potential resources that could be used for energy purposes.
SEAC analysts Lori Bird and Jenny Sumner recently published the report "Using Renewable Energy Purchases to Achieve Institutional Carbon Goals: A Review of Current Practices and Considerations." With organizations and individuals increasingly interested in accounting for their carbon emissions, greater attention is being placed on how to account for the benefits of various carbon mitigation actions available to consumers and businesses. Generally, organizations can address their own carbon emissions through energy efficiency, fuel switching, on-site renewable energy systems, renewable energy purchased from utilities or in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs), and carbon offsets. This paper explores the role of green power and carbon offsets in carbon footprinting and the distinctions between the two products. It reviews how leading greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting programs treat green power purchases and discusses key issues regarding how to account for the carbon benefits of renewable energy. It also discusses potential double counting if renewable energy generation is used in multiple markets.
SEAC analyst Bethany Speer published the fact sheet "First Known Use of QECBs will Save Yolo County at Least $8.7 Million over the Next 25 Years." Yolo County, California, made history in July when officials installed a 1 MW solar PV project to supply power to both a jail and juvenile center. The project is noteworthy for at least two reasons: It is the first known use of qualified energy conservation bonds (QECBs) and, subsequently, the first known combined use of QECBs and clean renewable energy bonds (CREBs) in the country. This article outlines the process the county underwent to finance the installation as well as the ways in which it helped make the process easier for itself.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, along with the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, recently published three guides for local solar projects.
"The Solarize Guidebook: A Community Guide to Collective Purchasing of Residential PV Systems."
This handbook by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America Communities program is intended as a road map for project planners and solar advocates who want to convert "interest" into "action," to break through market barriers and permanently transform the market for residential solar installations in their communities. It describes the key elements of the Solarize campaigns in Portland and offers several program refinements from projects beyond Portland. The handbook provides lessons, considerations, and step-by-step plans for project organizers to replicate the success of Solarize Portland.
"A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-profit Project Development."
Advances in solar technology, an increase in federal and state tax incentives, and creative new financing models have made community solar projects more financially feasible. This guide is a resource for those who want to develop community solar projects—from community organizers or solar energy advocates to government officials or utility managers.
"Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments."
This guide assists local government officials and stakeholders in designing and implementing strategic local solar plans. The 2011 edition includes the most recent lessons and successes from the 25 Solar America Cities and other communities promoting solar energy and introduces a range of policy and program options.
Clean Energy Policies
SEAC analyst Sarah Busche recently published the report "Clean Energy Policy Analyses: Analysis of the Status and Impact of Clean Energy Policies at the Local Level."
This report takes a broad look at the status of local clean energy policies in the United States to develop a better understanding of local clean energy policy development and the interaction between state and local policies. To date, the majority of clean energy policy research focuses on the state and federal levels. While there has been a substantial amount of research on local level climate change initiatives, this is one of the first analyses of clean energy policies separate from climate change initiatives. This report is one in a suite of reports analyzing clean energy and climate policy development at the local, state, and regional levels.
RE-Powering America's Land
NREL has released the third 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 the Stringfellow Superfund site. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Gail Mosey.
NREL's Otto VanGeet and Gail Mosey published the report "Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Stringfellow Superfund Site in Riverside, California."
This report presents the results of an assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of deploying a photovoltaics (PV) system on the Stringfellow Superfund Site in Riverside, California. The site was assessed for possible PV installations by estimating the cost, performance, and site impacts of different PV options. The economics of the potential systems were analyzed using an electric rate of $0.13/kWh and incentives offered by Southern California Edison under the California Solar Initiative. According to the assessment, a government-owned, ground-mounted PV system represents a technically and economically feasible option. The report recommends financing options that could assist in the implementation of such a system.
SEAC analysts have released an updated version of NREL's Geospatial Toolkit (GsT), which is a map-based tool for renewable energy resource assessment in developing countries. The GsT, which can be downloaded and used on any Windows desktop, combines the capabilities of geographic information systems (GIS) software with data on resource, land use, and infrastructure. The toolkit allows users to do a simple analysis of renewable potential without expertise in GIS. The revised version of the Geospatial Toolkit features three countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, and Turkey. A new version of the GsT will be released for all existing original-version countries in the coming weeks. The toolkits can be accessed through the Energy Assessments section of NREL's International Activities website. A "help" file is also provided.
NREL has developed an updated PVWatts Viewer application, which provides easy and efficient access to the PVWatts® Calculator. This calculator allows users to determine the energy production and cost savings of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems in the United States and select international sites. The updated application uses a Web mapping interface, which allows users to specify their location using address, zip code, or coordinate lookups. Alternatively, the user can establish a location through the use of the interactive map navigation tools. Once a location is identified, the user simultaneously queries both the point-based and grid-based PV production models to generate an estimate of potential PV output for their location. This updated application allows users to set transparency levels, has better zooming capabilities, and includes a tool to delineate a specific area by drawing a line or polygon around it.
Open Energy Information (OpenEI)
SEAC has released a fact sheet that highlights capabilities of the Open Energy Information (OpenEI) tool, developed by NREL as part of the Open Government Initiative (PDF 627 KB)
The Open Energy Information (OpenEI) site is a linked open-data platform that brings together energy information for improved analyses, unique visualizations, and real-time access to data. Although much of the world's energy-related information and data are available as resources on the Internet, they are dispersed among innumerable individuals and organizations, available in widely disparate formats, and highly variable in quality and usefulness. OpenEI strives to provide better access to this energy information, with the ultimate goal of spurring creativity and driving innovation in the energy sector. OpenEI was also recently featured on the White House Innovations Gallery. To learn more, access the OpenEI home page.
Innovative Research Analysis Award Program Awardees
The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis has announced the 2011 awardees for its Innovative Research Analysis Award Program (IRAAP), which includes projects on improved models for assessing the economic impacts of U.S. climate policy, financial models for electric utility market transformation, and combining a high renewable energy grid with load-following nuclear plants. The Joint Institute has conducted the IRAAP as a way to fund projects for faculty members or researchers at one of its founding institutions. The selected projects are focused on gaining critical, timely, and deep understanding of market dynamics, technologies, and systems, as well as interfaces across industries, economies, and markets. Projects funded by the Joint Institute must involve foundational research that addresses critical issues related to the transformation of the global energy economy toward global sustainability. For a list of the new awardees, access the IRAAP page on the Joint Institute website.