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December 2013

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December 2013


NREL Analysis: Making an Impact


A graphic showing the cover design for the Realizing a Clean Energy Future brochure.

In Hawaiian mythology, Maui set out to lasso the sun in order to capture its energy. He succeeded. That may have been the most dramatic leap forward in clean energy systems that the world has known. Until now. Today, profound energy system transformation is underway. A combination of forces is taking us from a carbon-centric, inefficient energy system to one that draws from diverse energy sources — including the sun. A new brochure, Realizing a Clean Energy Future: Highlights of NREL Analysis, showcases how NREL analysis is helping guide energy systems policy and investment decisions through this transformation.


Renewable Energy Data Book Details Growing Renewables Industry in 2012


The cover of the 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book.

Renewable electricity represented 14% of total installed capacity and more than 12% of total electric generation in 2012, according to the 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book, published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The Data Book compiles 2012 U.S. energy statistics, worldwide renewable energy development, clean energy investments, and data on specific technologies.

"The 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book is filled with information-packed charts and graphics, which allows users, from analysts to policymakers, to quickly understand and summarize trends in renewable energy—both on a U.S. and global scale," said NREL Energy Analyst Rachel Gelman, who led the Data Book project.

The 2011 Renewable Energy Data Book was the third-most downloaded file on NREL.gov with 7,488 downloads.

Read the NREL press release. The Energize Weekly newsletter and Smart Energy Universe highlighted the data book.


PVWatts Now Calculates Cost and Performance of Solar PV Systems in India


Screenshot of PVWatts Calculator website.

PVWatts™ Calculator, an NREL-developed model, allows homeowners, small building owners, installers, and manufacturers to easily develop estimates of the cost and performance of PV installations. Now, a new PVWatts India application extends the benefits of the popular PVWatts tool to India by utilizing the same performance model and a newly developed satellite-derived solar resource dataset for the entire country of India. This dataset allows the generation of reliable PV production estimates at any location in India. In addition, PVWatts India provides India-specific default values and displays economic values in Indian rupees. PVWatts India was funded by EERE's International Team under the U.S-India Energy Dialogue.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the December News


"Our results, from a technical nature, show that you could meet demand every hour of the year, with up to 80% of it coming from renewable resources. What we found was that there were many pathways, and there wasn't a red flag that said it was impossible, at least at the level that we looked at it."
- Doug Arent

Commenting on NREL's Renewable Electricity Futures Study in a December 2 report on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Read or listen to the full story, or learn more on JISEA.org. EcoBusiness published an article about the interview.

"Natural Gas Scenarios in the U.S. Power Sector" is number 18 on the list of most downloads on Energy Economics. This paper is authored by Jeffrey Logan, Anthony Lopez, Trieu Mai, Carolyn Davidson, Morgan Bazilian, and Douglas Arent.

Greentech Media and The Energy Collective quoted Doug Arent and Dan Arvizu in the articles "The Odd Couple: Natural Gas and Renewables."

The Los Angeles Times quoted Trieu Mai in their article "Power Struggle: Green Energy Versus a Grid That's Not Ready."

An Associated Press reporter spoke to Jenny Heeter about green power. Business Week posted the article.

Lori Bird provided a presentation to a Montana legislative committee—the Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee—on November 8 discussing how states have assessed the benefits of RPS policies. Information is available on the ETIC website.

PV Insider interviewed Garvin Heath about his papers on the harmonization of life cycle assessments of greenhouse gases.

E&E Publishing quoted Trieu Mai in the recent article "Electricity: To Bridge Gaps in Wind and Solar Generation, Aging Grid Learns Flexibility."

PV Magazine and ThomasNet News quoted Paul Schwabe about SAPC's release of standardized contracts. SustainableBusiness.com quoted Paul Schwabe and Michael Mendelsohn.

Paul Schwabe co-hosted a SEIA-sponsored webinar on November 19 on the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) standard contract effort for residential leases and commercial PPAs.

Renewable Energy World and TechInvestor News discussed the NREL report Non-Hardware ('Soft') Cost Reduction Roadmap for Residential and Commercial Solar by Kristen Ardani, Dan Seif, Robert Margolis, Jesse Morris, Carolyn Davidson, Sarah Truitt, and Roy Torbert.

"It is a chicken-and-egg problem. They may see solar as too expensive, but some of the recent cost reductions are the result of deployment. If planners wait for prices to drop, prices won't drop because deployment won't grow."
- Karlynn Cory

Quoted by Greentech Media in their article "What Utility Planners Need to Know About Solar."

David Keyser, Aaron Smith, and Suzanne Tegen presented at a DOE webinar about "Jobs and Economic Development Impacts of Offshore Wind" on November 20.

NERC and CAISO recently released a joint report on maintaining bulk-power reliability under high variable renewable energy penetrations. It includes NREL citations and discussion of the energy imbalance market.


December Publications


Journal Article: Decision-Making for High Renewable Electricity Futures in the United States
Journal: Energy Strategy Reviews
Authors: Morgan Bazilian, Trieu Mai, Doug Arent, Mackay Miller, and Jeffrey Logan, NREL; Sam Baldwin, DOE

This article highlights aspects of policy, regulation, finance, markets, and operations that can help enable high penetration renewable energy electricity generation futures. It uses analytical results from the Renewable Electricity Futures Study as a basis for discussion.


Journal Article: Impact of Photovoltaic Orientation on its Relative Economic Value in Wholesale Energy Markets
Journal: Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Authors: Marissa Hummon, Paul Denholm, and Robert Margolis, NREL

With the use of historical solar irradiance and wholesale market prices for several locations in the United States, NREL evaluates the benefits of a variety of orientations for fixed and tracking PV arrays.


NREL Report: Regulatory Considerations Associated with the Expanded Adoption of Distributed Solar
Authors: Lori Bird, Joyce McLaren, and Jenny Heeter, NREL; Carl Linvill, John Shenot, Rich Sedano, and Janine Migden-Ostrander, Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)

This report examines regulatory tools and rate designs for addressing emerging issues with the expanded adoption of distributed PV and evaluates the potential effectiveness and viability of these options going forward.


NREL Report: The Impact of Wind and Solar on the Value of Energy Storage
Author: Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, Marissa Hummon, and David Palchak, NREL; Brendan Kirby, Consultant; Ookie Ma, U.S. Department of Energy; Mark O'Malley, University College Dublin

This analysis evaluates how the value of energy storage changes when adding variable generation renewable energy resources to the grid.


NREL Report: Master Limited Partnerships and Real Estate Investment Trusts: Opportunities and Potential Complications For Renewable Energy
Author: David Feldman and Edward Settle, NREL

This report summarizes the challenges and potential of Master Limited Partnerships and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) as investment vehicles under consideration as potential means to lower renewable energy assets' high costs of capital—a critical factor in DOE's goal for renewable energy to achieve grid-parity with traditional sources of electric generation.


NREL Report: Estimated Economic Impacts of Utility Scale Wind Power in Iowa
Authors: Sandra Halvatzis and David Keyser, NREL

This analysis examines the economic impacts associated with the first 1,000 MW of wind energy deployment in Iowa.


NREL Report: Treatment of Solar Generation in Electric Utility Resource Planning
Authors: Joyce McLaren and Karlynn Cory, NREL; John Sterling and Mike Taylor, Solar Electric Power Association

Using interviews and a questionnaire, analysts gathered information from utilities about: (1) how various utilities approach long-range resource planning; (2) methods and tools utilities use to conduct resource planning, and (3) how solar technologies are considered in the resource planning process.


Technical Reports: RE-Powering America's Land Series

EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.



November 2012


Green Power Markets on the Rise


A chart showing the consistent growth of renewable energy sales. In 2006, 12 million megawatt-hours were sold and 2012 marked nearly 50 million MWh. Utilities mark slowest growth with renewable energy certificates amounting for half of all renewable energy sold in 2012.
Estimated annual voluntary sales by market sector show a rise in green power markets
a Voluntary sales for 2011 are estimated as the mid-point of 2010 and 2012 sales.

With voluntary green power markets, consumers and institutions voluntarily purchase renewable energy to match their electricity needs. Voluntary action provides a revenue stream for renewable energy projects and raises consumer awareness of the benefits of renewable energy. These markets continued to exhibit growth and stimulate renewable energy development in 2012.

Status and Trends in the U.S. Voluntary Green Power Market (2012 Data) by Jenny Heeter and Terry Nicholas reviews the voluntary market and identifies market trends. The voluntary green power market totaled more than 48 million MWh in 2012, with about 1.9 million customers participating. The supply continues to be dominated by wind, though solar is increasing its share of utility green pricing programs. Prices for voluntary renewable energy certificates (RECs) increased to above $1/MWh.

Jenny Heeter presented a summary of the report titled "Current State of the Voluntary Renewable Energy Market" at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference 2013.


IREEED Distributes Renewable Energy Information for India


Screenshot of Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database website.

NREL, in collaboration with India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has created the Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database (IREEED) to disseminate information on renewable energy and energy efficiency policies established by the central and state governments in India. IREEED, developed under the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue and the Clean Energy Solution Center, is an online database that provides succinct policy information for consumers, businesses, project developers, and policymakers. IREEED includes:

  • Summaries of policies, regulations, and incentive programs for the central government and all states in India
  • Faceted search function
  • Links to policy and regulatory documentation
  • Links to resources on energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • Summary information on the most pertinent policy types, including generation-based incentives and renewable purchase obligations
  • User feedback form.

A fact sheet (PDF) provides more information.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the November News


NREL analysts participated in Solar Power International in Chicago. Karlynn Cory was on the panel "Treatment of Solar in Electric Utility Resource Planning" along with members from SEPA. Mike Mendelsohn presented "The Future of Solar Finance?: Accessing Low-Cost Public Capital." Kristen Ardani held a workshop titled "NREL-RMI Workshop Summary: PV Soft Cost Roadmap Working Groups," which convened more than 60 PV industry stakeholders and gained feedback on reducing PV soft costs and market barriers.

IEEE Spectrum, PV Magazine, and Solar Daily published articles about the NREL report Non-Hardware ("Soft") Cost-Reduction Roadmap for Residential and Small Commercial Solar Photovoltaics, 2013-2020 by Kristen Ardani, Robert Margolis, Carolyn Davidson, and Sarah Truitt of NREL and Dan Seif, Jesse Morris, and Roy Torbert of Rocky Mountain Institute.

Climate Spectator and The Energy Collective posted articles on The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2. The report features contributions from NREL's Debra Lew, Gregory Brinkman, Eduardo Ibanez, Anthony Florita, Mike Heaney, Bri-Mathias Hodge, Marissa Hummon, and Greg Stark. Lori Bird presented to the SEIA Utility Scale Solar Meeting on October 21 and gave a poster presentation at Solar Power International on October 24 about the report.

Thomas Net posted an article about the NREL report Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States by Sean Ong, Clinton Campbell, Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, and Garvin Heath.

"Our analysis finds that investments in technology research and development are critical not only to the widespread deployment of solar PV in most locations, without subsidy, but also may equalize factors that affect regional competitiveness, thus creating opportunities for U.S.-based manufacturers."

- Sustainable Business published an article quoting Alan Goodrich about his journal article "Assessing the Drivers of Regional Trends in Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing." Other NREL authors include Ted James and Michael Woodhouse. PV Insider also quoted Alan Goodrich in their article "Bright Spots Emerging for CIGS Sector."

Vermont Biz posted an article that discusses the NREL report Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the VAG Mine Site in Eden and Lowell, Vermont by Joe Simon and Gail Mosey.

The Energy Collective cited the Renewable Electricity Futures Study in an article.

Lori Bird presented on "Regulatory Considerations for Expanded PV Adoption" to the NARUC Energy Resources and Environment Advisory Committee on October 18.


November Publications


NREL Report: Low Emission Development Strategies: The Role of Networks and Knowledge Platforms
Authors: Ron Benioff, Morgan Bazilian, Sadie Cox, and Caroline Uriarte, NREL; Ana Kecman, Giuseppe De Simone, Kazuki Kitaoka, and Marina Ploutakhina, United Nations Industrial Development Organization; Mark Radka, United Nations Environment Programme

The authors present a review of strengths and weaknesses of existing low-emissions developments strategies (LEDS) networks that build on the findings of a study conducted by the Coordinated Low Emission Assistance Network (CLEAN). Based on the insights from theory and a mapping of the climate-related network space, opportunities for further refinement of LEDS networks are identified.


Technical Report: Market Evolution: Wholesale Electricity Market Design for 21st Century Power Systems
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Mackay Miller, Michael Milligan, Erik Ela, Douglas Arent, and Aaron Bloom, NREL; Matthew Futch, IBM; Juha Kiviluoma and Hannele Holtinnen, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland; Antje Orths, Energinet.dk; Emilio Gómez-Lázaro and Sergio Martín-Martínez, Universidad de Castilla La Mancha; Steven Kukoda and Glycon Garcia, International Copper Association; Kim Møller Mikkelsen, Global Green Growth Institute; Zhao Yongqiang and Kaare Sandholt, China National Renewable Energy Center

Produced for the 21st Century Power Partnership, this report reviews the suite of wholesale power market designs in use and under consideration to ensure adequacy, security, and flexibility in a landscape of significant variable renewable energy. It also examines considerations needed to ensure that wholesale market designs are inclusive of emerging technologies, such as demand response, distributed generation, and storage.


NREL Report: PVWatts Version 1 Technical Reference
Author: Aron P. Dobos, NREL

The PVWatts™ calculator is a web application developed by NREL that estimates the electricity production of a grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system. This technical reference details the application components, documents assumptions and hidden parameters, and explains the sequence of calculations that yield the final system performance estimation.


NREL Report: Financing, Overhead, and Profit: An In-Depth Discussion of Costs Associated With Third-Party Financing of Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems
Authors: David Feldman, Barry Friedman, and Robert Margolis, NREL

This report presents results from a bottom-up data collection and analysis of the upfront costs associated with developing, constructing, and arranging third-party-financed residential and commercial PV systems. It quantifies the indirect corporate costs required to install distributed PV systems as well as the transactional costs associated with arranging third-party financing.


NREL Report: Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance-of-System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems, Using a Bottom-Up Approach and Installer Survey - Second Edition
Authors: Barry Friedman, Kristen Ardani, David Feldman, Ryan Citron, and Robert Margolis, NREL; Jarett Zuboy, independent consultant

This report presents results from the second DOE-sponsored, bottom-up data collection and analysis of non-hardware balance-of-system costs—often referred to as "business process" or "soft" costs—for U.S. residential and commercial PV systems.


NREL Report: Transmission Line Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Model User Reference Guide
Authors: Marshall Goldberg, MRG and Associates; David Keyser, NREL

This transmission line Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) user reference guide provides basic instruction on operating the model and understanding the results. This guide also provides information on the model's underlying methodology, as well as the parameters and references used to develop the cost data contained in the model.


Technical Reports: RE-Powering America's Land Series

EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.


Conference Paper: Downscaling Solar Power Output to 4-Seconds for Use in Integration Studies [Conference Paper] [Presentation]
Author: Marissa Hummon, Andrew Weekley, Keith Searight, and Kara Clark, NREL

This paper shows that an optimized weighted linear sum of methods, dependent on the classification of temporal variability of the segment of one-minute solar power data, yields time series and ramp distributions similar to measured high-resolution solar irradiance data.


Conference Paper: Modelling Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage for Integration Studies [Conference Paper] [Presentation]
Authors: Marissa Hummon, Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, and Mark Mehos, NREL

Concentrating solar power with thermal energy storage (CSP-TES) can provide multiple benefits to the grid, including low marginal cost energy and the ability to levelize load, provide operating reserves, and provide firm capacity. The authors develop and implement a CSP-TES plant in a production cost model that accurately characterizes the three main components of the plant: solar field, storage tank, and power block.


Presentation: Accelerating Computation of the Unit Commitment Problem
Author: Marissa Hummon, Clayton Barrows, and Wesley Jones, NREL

This presentation for the INFORMS 2013 Annual Meeting shows how NREL exploits the persistence of unit commitment decisions to select partition boundaries for simulation horizon decomposition and parallel computation. Partitioned simulations are benchmarked against sequential solutions for optimality and computation time.


Presentation: Coordinating Permit Offices and the Development of Utility-Scale Geothermal Energy
Author: Aaron Levine, Katherine R. Young, and Kermit Witherbee, NREL

This presentation for the 2013 Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting highlights various forms of coordinating permit offices at the state and federal level in the western United States, discusses inefficiencies and mitigation techniques for permitting natural resource projects, analyzes whether various approaches are easily adaptable to utility-scale geothermal development, and addresses advantages and challenges for coordinating permit offices.


Fact Sheet: Renewable Energy Finance, Solar Securitization: A Status Report
Author: Michael Mendelsohn, NREL

This fact sheet was designed to introduce solar securitization and the activities of NREL and the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group to the investment community.


Fact Sheet: Biogas Potential in the United States
Author: Anelia Milbrandt, NREL

Biogas has received increased attention as an alternative energy source in the United States. This fact sheet provides information about the biogas (methane) potential from various sources in the country (by county and state) and estimates the power generation and transportation fuels production (renewable natural gas) potential from these biogas sources.



October 2013


NREL Calculates Emissions and Costs of Power Plant Cycling Necessary for Increased Wind and Solar in the West


A chart showing the emission limited impacts of cycling compared to the emission reductions due to renewables.

WWSIS-2 quantifies the potential impacts of increasing wind and solar power generation on the operators of fossil-fueled power plants in the West.

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2 (WWSIS-2), evaluates the net effect of adding high penetrations of renewables on the grid, given that these can induce cycling of fossil-fueled generators. Cycling leads to wear-and-tear costs and changes in emissions.

"The increase in plant emissions from cycling to accommodate wind and solar generation are more than offset by the overall reduction in CO2, NOX, and SO2. Our analysis using real-world data shows that in high-penetration scenarios net carbon emissions were reduced by approximately one-third," said Debra Lew, Ph.D, lead author of the study. WWSIS-2 also features contributions from NREL's Greg Brinkman, Eduardo Ibanez, Marissa Hummon, Bri-Mathias Hodge, Anthony Florita, and Greg Stark.

NREL also published a related fact sheet, Western Wind and Solar Integration Study: The Effects of Wind and Solar Power-Induced Cycling on Wear-and-Tear Costs and Emissions by Debra Lew and Lori Bird.

The Denver Post, The Washington Post, Clean Technica, and an AWEA blog posted articles about this report.

Read the NREL news release for more information.



ReEDS Used to Find Optimal Sites in NREL Study


A map showing the concentrations of renewable potential in the western states.

This map shows the siting of photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, and wind plants for the high wind scenario in WWSIS-2.

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2 (WWSIS-2) used the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) to choose optimal locations for siting wind and solar. ReEDS, developed by NREL with EERE support, is a capacity expansion model for the deployment of electric power generation technologies and transmission infrastructure throughout the contiguous United States. It determines the least-cost combination of generation options that fulfill a variety of user-defined constraints, such as projected load, capacity reserve margins, emissions limitations, and operating lifetimes. ReEDS can model all types of power generators and fuels—coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables—although it was designed primarily to address considerations for integrating renewable electric technologies into the power grid.



NREL Analysis and Analysts in the October News


Colorado Public Radio interviewed David Hurlbut about recent NREL report Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West. The Star Tribune, ENR Mountain States, and Energy Daily mentioned the report in recent articles.

GreenTechMedia used and referenced OpenEI's Transparent Cost Database in a recent article titled "Solar or Offshore Wind: Which Is Cheaper?"

PVTech and CIOL quoted Kristen Ardani about the NREL report Non-Hardware ("Soft") Cost-Reduction Roadmap for Residential and Small Commercial Solar Photovoltaics, 2013-2020.

ClimateWire quoted Lori Bird in its article "Solar, Utility Companies Clash Over Changes to Net Metering." SNL subscribers can access "Panelists: High Penetration of Renewables Demands More Balancing, Energy Storage," which also quoted Lori Bird.

The Wall Street Journal's article "Six Myths About Renewable Energy" discussed the Renewable Electricity Futures study.

"For solar power, there's a 'chicken and egg' problem: consistent demand is needed to give manufacturers access to the capital required to achieve large-scale production, but large-scale production will be necessary for solar power to compete as an energy source without subsidies."
- Al Goodrich

Quoted in Machinery Market about his recently published journal article, "Assessing the Drivers of Regional Trends in Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing." Read the NREL news release here.

Solar Power World posted an article that cites the use of NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM) for forecast modeling.

Doug Arent presented at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF) West conference, about which SNL posted a subscribers-only article article. The article also links to Arent's presentation and a related NREL report.

Environmental Research Web covered an Environmental Research Letters journal article by Yolanda Lin, Laura Vimmerstedt, and Brian Bush that uses the Biomass Scenario Model (BSM).

Solar Novus Today discusses HOMER (Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewables), a tool developed at NREL and spun off to the private sector, in their recent article titled "Software Modeling in PV Project Development."


October Publications


Journal Article: Assessing the Drivers of Regional Trends in Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing
Journal: Energy and Environmental Science
Authors: Alan C. Goodrich, Ted L. James, and Michael Woodhouse, NREL; Douglas M. Powell and Tonio Buonassisi, MIT

This article finds that production scale, not lower labor costs, drives China's current advantage in manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems; the study's findings also suggest that the current advantages of China-based manufacturers could be reproduced in the United States.


Journal Article: Including Alternative Resources in State Renewable Portfolio Standards: Current Design and Implementation Experience
Journal: Energy Policy
Authors: Jenny Heeter and Lori Bird, NREL

This article examines state experience with implementing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that include energy efficiency, thermal resources, and non-renewable energy and explores compliance experience, costs, and how states evaluate, measure, and verify energy efficiency and convert thermal energy. It aims to gain insights from the experience of states for possible federal clean energy policy as well as to share experience and lessons for state RPS implementation.


Journal Article: Modeling Biofuel Expansion Effects on Land Use Change Dynamics
Journal: Environmental Research Letters
Authors: Ethan Warner, Daniel Inman, Benjamin Kunstman, Brian Bush, Laura Vimmerstedt, Jordan Macknick, and Yimin Zhang, NREL; Steve Peterson, Peterson Group, Lexidyne LLC, and Dartmouth College

NREL's system dynamics tool is intended to complement existing land use change (LUC) modeling approaches and improve the understanding of global LUC drivers and dynamics by allowing examination of global LUC under diverse scenarios and varying model assumptions. NREL reports on a small subset of such analyses. This model provides insights into the drivers and dynamic interactions of LUC (e.g., dietary choices and biofuel policy) and is not intended to assert improvement in numerical results relative to other works.


NREL Report: Integrating Variable Renewable Energy: Challenges and Solutions
Authors: Lori Bird, Michael Milligan, and Debra Lew, NREL

This paper explores renewable energy integration challenges and mitigation strategies that have been implemented in the United States and internationally, including forecasting, demand response, flexible generation, larger balancing areas or balancing area cooperation, and operational practices such as fast scheduling and dispatch.


Technical Reports: RE-Powering America's Land Series
EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.


Conference Paper: Wind and Solar Curtailment
Authors: Debra Lew, Lori Bird, Michael Milligan, Bethany Speer, and Xi Wang, NREL; Enrico Maria Carlini, Terna Rete Italia; Ana Estanqueiro, LNEG; Damian Flynn, University College Dublin; Emilio Gomez-Lazaro, University of Castilla-La Mancha; Nickie Menemenlis, Hydro Quebec; Antje Orths, Energinet.dk; Ivan Pineda, European Wind Energy Association; J. Charles Smith, UVIG; Lennart Soder, KTH; Poul Sorensen and Argyrios Altiparmakis, Technical University of Denmark; Yasuda Yoh, Kansai University.

This paper examines experiences with curtailment on bulk power systems internationally. It discusses how much curtailment is occurring, how it is occurring, why it is occurring, and what is being done to reduce curtailment.


Training Material: BITES Workshop Instructor and Student Guide
Authors: Austin Brown, NREL

NREL published a guide for instructors and students who use the Buildings, Industrial, Transportation, and Electricity Scenarios (BITES) tool to explore the potential future of the U.S. energy system.


Fact Sheet: Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database
Authors: Sarah Booth, NREL

The Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database (IREEED), developed in collaboration between DOE and India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, is a repository of all central and state government policies, incentives, and programs related to renewable energy and energy efficiency.


Fact Sheet: Solar Energy and Capacity Value
Author: Paul Denholm, NREL

This fact sheet describes how solar power provides capacity value to utilities and power system operators.


Fact Sheet: Variable Renewable Generation Can Provide Balancing Control to the Electric Power System
Authors: Erik Ela and Kara Clark, NREL

This fact sheet discusses the grid-friendly support and benefits renewables can provide to the electric power system.


Presentation: Selected Highlights of LCA Activities at NREL
Authors: Alberta Carpenter, Garvin Heath, Daniel Inman, Margaret Mann, Ethan Warner, and Yimin Zhang, NREL

This presentation to DOE highlights results and challenges of recent life cycle assessments (LCAs) at NREL and illustrates how traditional LCA methods have been extended to help answer new questions.


Presentation: Photovoltaic System Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections, 2013 Edition
Author: David Feldman, NREL

This briefing provides a high-level overview of historical, recent, and projected near-term PV system pricing trends in the United States, drawing on several ongoing research activities from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and NREL.


Presentation: The Present, Mid-Term, and Long-Term Supply Curves for Tellurium; and Updates in the Results from NREL's CdTe PV Module Manufacturing Cost Model
Author: Michael Woodhouse, NREL

This presentation examines the current, mid-term, and long-term prospects of Tellurium (Te) for use in PV.



September 2013


NREL Report Analyzes Renewable Energy Development Outlook in the West


The cover of Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West report.

In a new report, NREL assesses the outlook for utility-scale renewable energy development in the West once states have met their RPS requirements.

A new NREL report, Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West, by David J. Hurlbut, Joyce McLaren, and Rachel Gelman of NREL assesses the outlook for utility-scale renewable energy development in the West once states have met their renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements. In the West, the last state RPS culminates in 2025, so the analysis uses 2025 as a transition point on the timeline of renewable energy development. Most western states appear to be on track to meet their final requirements, relying primarily on renewable resources located relatively close to the customers being served. What happens next depends on several factors, including trends in the supply and price of natural gas, greenhouse gas and other environmental regulations, consumer preferences, technological breakthroughs, and future public policies and regulations. Changes in any one of these factors could make future renewable energy options more or less attractive.

A separate Executive Summary was published at the same time as the report.

California Science & Technology News, Science Daily, Research & Development, Phys. Org, Democratic Underground, Science Codex, Wyoming Energy News, Green Car Congress, Energy Vortex, Daily Kos, Colorado Cleantech, SNL, Sun-Enews, Global Geothermal News, Nanowerk, Renew Grid, JBK-Renewable-Energy, and Penn Energy published news articles about this report. David Hurlbut interviewed with Colorado Public Radio about the report.

Read NREL's news release, NREL Study Suggests Cost Gap for Western Renewables Could Narrow by 2025.

A screen cature of the RE Futures website.

NREL's new Multivariate Visualization Tool displays data from the Renewable Electricity Futures Study and other sources.


New Tool for Visualization Analysis


NREL has developed a new framework to support visualization and exploration of analytical results that vary in space and time. Both frameworks can be customized to support new analysis.

The new Multivariate Visualization Tool (MVT) works with data from the Renewable Electricity Futures Study (RE Futures), the OpenPV project, and the Geothermal Prospector. The RE Futures scenario viewer is currently available online.

The MVT supports the exploration of analysis scenarios that simultaneously vary over space and time. In the example of RE Futures, a user can generate more than 200,000 maps by selecting different scenario parameters and renewable energy technologies at times between 2010 and 2050. The maps are based on RE Futures datasets.




NREL Released Beta Updates of Two Popular Tools


A screen cature of the PVWatts Calculator website.

NREL has released beta updates of two popular online solar tools: the PVWatts™ Calculator and the System Advisor Model (SAM).

The PVWatts Calculator estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected PV energy systems throughout the world. PVWatts allows homeowners, small building owners, installers, and manufacturers to estimate the performance of potential PV installations. The tool features increased flexibility and an updated look and feel. The PVWatts beta combines the capabilities of the previous version with those of NREL's In My Backyard (IMBY) tool.

SAM is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry. The new version of the tool includes 26 updates, including an updated PV module library with 11,301 modules. The beta version of the update is available for Windows and Mac OS X and expires on September 30. NREL plans to release the official version by the end of September.

PV Magazine posted an article about the two tools.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the September News


The Denver Post, Greentech Media, EERE Network News, IEEE Spectrum, Denver Business Journal, Renewable Energy World, Solar Industry, InnovatioNews, Solar Reviews, Today's Energy Solutions, a Denver Post blog, Photon International, Colorado Energy News, and Energy Manager Today discussed NREL report Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States by Sean Ong, Clinton Campbell, Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, and Garvin Heath in recent articles. This report has been downloaded 2,398 times through August 13.

"All these land-use numbers are being thrown around, but there has been nothing concrete," said Sean Ong, the study's lead author. "Now, people will actually have numbers to cite when they conduct analyses and publish reports."

PV Magazine posted an article about how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will almost triple the number of screenings, from 24,000 to 66,000, of contaminated sites for renewable energy potential. The screenings are conducted under the RE-Powering America's Land initiative, which EPA developed to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies on selected sites; NREL has published 25 of these studies this year. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.

Smart Energy Universe wrote about NREL's offshore wind reports and cites the use of JEDI in the studies.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com reposted the NREL blog "These Solar REIT Pioneers Are Mining the Sun for 'Good Income'" by Jared Wiedmeyer.

Smart Grid posted an article on the Energy DataBus.


September Publications


Journal Article: The Energy-Water-Food Nexus Through the Lens of Algal Systems
Journal: Industrial Biotechnology
Authors: Morgan Bazilian and Douglas Arent, JISEA; Ryan Davis and Philip T. Pienkos, NREL

The policies for energy, water, and food have numerous interwoven concerns, including access to essential services and resources, environmental impacts, national security, and price volatility. These issues manifest in very different ways in each of the three "spheres." This article uses algal bioresources as a lens through which to consider aspects of this nexus.


Journal Article: Evaluating the Impact of Third-Party Price Reporting and Other Drivers on Residential Photovoltaic Price Estimates
Journal: Energy Policy
Authors: Carolyn Davidson and Daniel Steinberg, NREL

This study investigates residential PV system price drivers to improve the accuracy, consistency, and relevance of PV price-tracking efforts. An econometric approach evaluates system price drivers using California Solar Initiative data, controlling for system, installer, and geographic variables.


Journal Article: Natural Gas Scenarios in the U.S. Power Sector
Journal: Energy Economics
Authors: Jeffrey Logan, Anthony Lopez, Trieu Mai, and Carolyn Davidson, NREL; Morgan Bazilian and Douglas Arent, JISEA

NREL assesses questions affecting today's natural gas and electric power markets, including the impacts of forthcoming EPA rules on power plants, decarbonization options such as a clean energy standard, potential improvements in key generation technologies, expanded use of natural gas outside of the power generation sector, and higher costs for natural gas production.


Conference Paper: Comparison of Photovoltaic Models in the System Advisor Model: Preprint
Authors: Nate J. Blair and Aron P. Dobos, NREL; Paul Gilman, Contractor

This paper presents an overview the different PV model options available in SAM and presents a comparison of results for a 200-kW system using different model options.


NREL Report: SAM Technical Review Committee Final Report: Summary and Key Recommendations from the Onsite TRC Meeting Held April 22-23, 2013
Authors: Nate Blair, Aron Dobos, S. Janzou, P. Gilman, Janine Freeman, and Leah Kaffine, NREL

This report summarizes the major recommendations of a technical review committee's evaluation of SAM.


NREL Report: Fundamental Drivers of the Cost and Price of Operating Reserves
Authors: Marissa Hummon, Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, and David Palchak, NREL; Brendan Kirby, Consultant; Ookie Ma, DOE

This analysis used a commercial grid simulation tool to evaluate the cost and price of several operating reserve services, including spinning contingency reserves and upward regulation reserves. The analysis demonstrates that the price of operating reserves depends highly on many assumptions regarding the operational flexibility of the generation fleet.


NREL Report: Rotation Angle for the Optimum Tracking of One-Axis Trackers
Authors: William F. Marion and Aron P. Dobos, NREL

Analysts derive an equation for the rotation angle that permits optimum movement along with equations giving the relationships between the rotation angle and the surface tilt and azimuth angles. These equations can improve modeling of the solar radiation available to a collector with tracking constraints and help determine the appropriate motor revolutions for optimum tracking.



August 2013


NREL's International Activities Support Energy Security and Other Key Objectives


NREL's analysts engage in clean energy initiatives around the world to support three key international strategic objectives: economic development, energy security, and environmental protection at home and abroad.

NREL collaborates with technical institutions and governments to strengthen clean energy markets by conducting resource and technology assessments, sharing policy best practices, fostering business and investment partnerships, and building capacity through training and technical support. Recent activities include two major papers published by the International Energy Association-Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (IEA-RETD).

RE-ASSUME: A Decision Maker's Guide to Evaluating Energy Scenarios, Modeling, and Assumptions, by Trieu Mai, Jeffrey Logan, Nate Blair, and Patrick Sullivan of NREL and Morgan Bazilian of JISEA, attempts to better equip those who commission energy scenarios and those who directly use such scenarios to make decisions. The paper highlights assumptions and methodological issues of energy scenarios that need to be critically considered when deriving policy conclusions.

RES-E-NEXT: Next Generation of RES-E Policy Instruments, by Mackay Miller, Lori Bird, Jaquelin Cochran, Michael Milligan, and Morgan Bazilian of NREL and authors from Ecar Limited and DIW Berlin, assesses key considerations for the next generation of policy to support renewable sources of electricity (RES-E). The paper analyzes renewable generation, grid infrastructure, and short-term and long-term security of supply.

In another international activity, NREL updated its solar resource maps for India. The new maps incorporate updated 10-km hourly solar resource data developed using weather satellite measurements combined with site-time specific solar modeling. Additionally, the new maps cover 2002-2011 and include enhanced aerosols information to improve estimates of direct normal irradiance.

A map of India with a color coding that indicating it has an even and moderate solar resource.

NREL updated solar resource maps for India with solar resource data developed using weather satellite measurements.


JEDI Estimates Economic Impacts of RE Projects in Feasibility Studies


NREL's Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) models estimate the economic impacts of constructing and operating power generation and biofuel plants at the local and state levels. First developed by NREL's Wind Powering America program to model wind energy impacts, JEDI has been expanded to analyze biofuels, coal, concentrating solar power, geothermal, marine and hydrokinetic power, natural gas, and photovoltaic (PV) power plants. The Excel-based JEDI models are freely available on NREL.gov. JEDI PV is available in a Web-based model.

JEDI analysis is utilized in the RE-Powering America's Land reports, including Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Santo Domingo Pueblo in Sandoval County, New Mexico by Jesse Geiger, Lars Lisell, and Gail Mosey. EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.

NREL recently published a JEDI reference guide titled Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Model: Offshore Wind User Reference Guide by Eric Lantz and David Keyser of NREL and Marshall Goldberg of MRG and Associates.

A screen cature of the PV JEDI website.

JEDI PV is available as a Web-based model and is accessed at jedi.nrel.gov.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the August News


Science Direct listed "Interactions, Complementarities and Tensions at the Nexus of Natural Gas and Renewable Energy" by April Lee, Owen Zinaman, Jeffrey Logan, Morgan Bazilian, Douglas Arent, and Robin L. Newmark as #1 in the "Top 25 Hottest Articles" in The Electricity Journal during early 2013. Morgan Bazilian was also an author on the #4 article, "Improving Access to Modern Energy Services: Insights from Case Studies."

"We installed more (wind power) than the Chinese did last year, and a very large supply-chain infrastructure has now emerged in the U.S. to support that kind of manufacturing and deployment."
Jeffrey Logan, NREL Senior Analyst, as quoted in MSN Money, "Alternative Energy Keeps Flowing in a Cheap-Fuel World."

SolarServer discusses how NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM) was adapted to meet Australia's needs in its article "Calculating the Prospects of Solar Thermal: Australian Government Launches New Tools to Assess CSP Potential."

CleanTechnica mentions NREL solar estimates in their recent article, which cites the Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST) and Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a California 33% Renewable Scenario by Paul Denholm, Yih-Huei Wan, Marissa Hummon, and Mark Mehos.

The Global Green Growth Institute invited Douglas Arent, JISEA executive director, to speak at the Global Green Growth Summit 2013, which was held on June 10–11, 2013, in the Republic of Korea. More than 600 people from 55 countries attended the summit, which focused on the nexus between finance, innovation, and policy.

A contributor for "The Conversation" in The Atlantic cited the Renewable Electricity Futures study when responding to the cover story.


August Publications


Journal Article: The Energy-Water-Food Nexus Through the Lens of Algal Systems
Authors: Morgan Bazilian and Douglas Arent, JISEA; Ryan Davis and Philip T. Pienkos, NREL

This article, to be published in the August issue of Industrial Biotechnology and available now online, uses algal bioresources as a lens through which to consider aspects of the policy nexus between energy, water, and food.


NREL Report: CREST: Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool: A Model for Developing Cost-Based Incentives in the United States; User Manual Version 4
Authors: Jason S. Gifford and Robert C. Grace, Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC
Technical Monitor: Karlynn Cory, NREL

This updated user manual will walk the reader through the spreadsheet tool, including its layout and conventions, offering context on how and why it was created. The manual now reflects all represented technologies: solar, wind, geothermal, anaerobic digester (AD), and fuel cells.


NREL Report: Energy Savings and Breakeven Cost for Residential Heat Pump Water Heaters in the United States
Authors: Jeff Maguire, Jay Burch, Tim Merrigan, and Sean Ong, NREL

Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) have recently reemerged in the U.S. residential water heating market and have the potential to provide homeowners with significant energy savings. To help answer questions as to the actual performance and energy savings potential of these units, simulations were performed of a HPWH at over 900 locations across the continental United States and Hawaii.


Fact Sheet: The Energy DataBus
Author: Kevin Eber, NREL

This fact sheet describes NREL's Energy DataBus, an open-source software program that collects energy data at second-to-second intervals from meters and sensors across NREL's campus and allows in-depth analysis of this data through innovative visualization tools.



July 2013


Energy DataBus Offers Open-Source Solution for Large-Scale Energy Data Management


A screenshot of the Energy Databus website.

NREL's Energy DataBus—an open-source system for storing, integrating, and aligning energy-related time-series data—tracks and analyzes energy use on NREL's campus and is applicable energy data management at other facilities, including anything from a single building to a large military base or college campus.

The Energy DataBus can store large amounts of data collected at high frequencies—NREL collects some of its energy data every second—and offers rich functionality to integrate this wide variety of data into a single database.

"The data gathered by NREL comes in different formats, at different rates, from a wide variety of sensors, meters, and control networks," says Keith Searight, development manager of the Energy DataBus. "The Energy DataBus software collects all this data and aligns it within one scalable database."

The Energy DataBus software is now available for free download and interested parties can test drive it on a demonstration site.

TMCNet.com and Thomasnet posted articles on the Energy DataBus.

For additional information about the Energy DataBus, visit NREL's Continuum Magazine, read the recent press release, or email the project team at DataBus@nrel.gov.


NREL's New Geothermal Regulatory Roadmap Guides Geothermal Deployment


An icon showing a highway sign behind the globe cut to the core revealling strata.

NREL's Geothermal Regulatory Roadmap (GRR), a new online tool for agency, industry, and policymaker use, guides understanding of regulatory processes and timelines and helps identify potential areas of concern in geothermal deployment.

Sponsored by the DOE Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), the GRR covers eight western states—Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah. Development of the roadmap for two additional states, Colorado and Texas, is underway. The roadmap covers federal and state processes and allows for expansion to the local (county) level.

The Energy Collective and Power Engineering published articles on the GRR.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the July News


Jeffrey Logan participated in a panel on how renewable energy sources are being used around the world; Thomson Reuters covered the event.

EnergyBiz, E&E Publishing, and Boulder County Business Report quoted Jenny Heeter about utility green power programs in recent articles. See NREL's news release for more information.

Solar Industry, Scientific American, and Clean Technica published articles about NREL's recent report Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a California 33% Renewable Scenario.

SNL quoted Michael Mendelsohn about the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group in an article.

Forbes mentioned NREL report Financing U.S. Renewable Energy Projects Through Public Capital Vehicles: Qualitative and Quantitative Benefits by Michael Mendelsohn and David Feldman.

Tech Investor News published an article on the Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST).

Distributed Energy published an article about The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS). Debra Lew was technical monitor for the study.

Forbes mentioned PVWatts in their article "Solar Universe's On-Line Process Makes Buying Residential Solar Easier."


July Publications


NREL Report: Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Model: Offshore Wind User Reference Guide
Authors: Eric Lantz, NREL; Marshall Goldberg, MRG and Associates; David Keyser, NREL
The Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) model is a spreadsheet based input-output tool that estimates potential economic impacts supported by the development and operation of offshore wind projects. This guide describes how to use the model as well as technical information such as methodology, limitations, and data sources.


NREL Report: Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States
Authors: Sean Ong, Clinton Campbell, Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, and Garvin Heath, NREL
This report provides data and analysis of the land use associated with utility-scale ground-mounted solar facilities, defined as installations greater than 1 MW. The solar projects we analyze represent 72% of installed and under-construction utility-scale PV and CSP capacity in the United States.


NREL Report: Biomass Scenario Model Documentation: Data and References
Authors: Yolanda Lin, Emily Newes, and Brian Bush, NREL; Steve Peterson and Dana Stright, Lexidyne, LLC
The Biomass Scenario Model (BSM) is a system dynamics model that represents the entire biomass-to-biofuels supply chain, from feedstock to fuel use. Most of the main data sources that feed into the model are recognized as baseline values by the industry. This report documents data sources and references in Version 2 of the BSM. The focus of this report is to provide insight into which sources are most influential in each area of the supply chain.


RE-Powering America's Land Reports

EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.


Fact Sheet: Wind LCA Harmonization
Authors: Debra Sandor and Garvin Heath, NREL
NREL recently led the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Harmonization Project, which involved a systematic review and harmonization of LCA literature of utility-scale wind power systems in order to determine the causes of life cycle greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and reduce variability in GHG estimates. This fact sheet summarizes the wind LCA harmonization.


Presentation: Rebuilding for Sustainability: Case Studies in the Making
Author: Lynn Billman, NREL
This presentation for SOLAR 2013 highlights technical assistance regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy options that NREL has done in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina; Greensburg, Kansas, following a devastating tornado; and New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy.


Presentation: Incentivizing Distributed Solar: Best Practices
Authors: Lori Bird and Andy Reger, NREL
This webinar presentation discusses findings of a recent NREL technical report on best practices for designing and implementing incentives for small and mid-sized residential and commercial distributed solar energy projects.


Presentation: The Value of Energy Storage for Grid Applications (Report Summary)
Authors: Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, Marissa Hummon, Thomas Jenkin, and David Palchak, NREL; Brendan Kirby, Consultant; Ookie Ma, DOE; Mark O'Malley, University College Dublin
This presentation summarizes an analysis of several operational benefits of electricity storage, including load-leveling, spinning contingency reserves, and regulation reserves.



June 2013


NREL Report Evaluates the Benefits of Electricity Storage


A new NREL Report—The Value of Energy Storage for Grid Applications by Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, Marissa Hummon, Thomas Jenkin, and David Palchak, NREL; Brendan Kirby, Consultant; Ookie Ma, DOE; and Mark O'Malley, University College Dublin—evaluates several operational benefits of electricity storage, including load leveling, spinning contingency reserves, and regulation reserves, using PLEXOS, a commercial grid simulation tool.

Overall, the results followed previous analyses that demonstrate relatively low value for load leveling but greater value for provision of reserve services. The value was estimated by taking the difference in operational costs between cases with and without energy storage and represents the operational cost savings from deploying storage by a traditional vertically integrated utility.

A chart illustrating the value of storage.

A new NREL report evaluates benefits of electricity storage: load leveling, spinning contingency reserves, and regulation reserves.


FRED Visualizes Energy Data


Free Energy Data (FRED) is a new open tool that visualizes, analyzes, and compares energy data to help state and local governments, private industry, energy planners and policymakers, and other energy researchers make better energy decisions and sustainable strategies.

FRED compiles complex, diverse energy datasets and distills them into simple, easy-to-understand graphics, useful to a wide audience. FRED users can enter their own data to compare performance with others and track performance over time. FRED allows users to adjust their focus from global to city-level scales, as well as to view past and present energy demand by fuel and sector.

FRED was developed in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Planetary Skin Institute.

A screencapture that shows the FRED user interface.

An example of a comparison analysis generated in FRED.


U.S. Residential and Commercial Building Load Profiles on OpenEI


OpenEI now offers simulated hourly residential and commercial building load datasets for all TMY3 locations in the United States. In addition to various building categories, the simulations consider variations in building construction due to local climate. Building load profiles are useful for a variety of applications, including calculating utility bill savings for rooftop solar systems, demand response analyses, and residential/commercial renewable energy feasibility studies. For more information, see this blog post.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the June News


NREL released a data viewer that allows a user to view and access data for all 27 scenarios that were modeled in the Renewable Electricity Futures study (RE Futures). The data is available by state, year, and technology. A user can see how things change in the charts and on the map by changing the technology, scenario, and year. NREL also posted the Volume 1 figure data in the "Modeling and Cost Data" section.

Scientific American, Solar Daily, Environmental Research Web, and Clean Technica published articles about recent NREL report Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a California 33% Renewable Scenario.

Daniel Inman presented "Bio Land Use Change and Overview" at the Center for Bioenergy Sustainability Seminar where he discussed the BioLUC tool, a system dynamics approach to land use change (LUC) modeling. Penn Energy posted a news release about the presentation.

Lori Bird discussed options for integrating renewable energy into electric grids during a presentation for a webinar titled "Renewable Energy Integration Challenges: How States are Managing the Rapid Growth of Renewable Energy," hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Lori Bird also presented "Incentivizing Distributed Solar: Best Practices" during a Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) webinar in which she discussed a recent NREL technical report on best practices for designing and implementing incentives for small and mid-sized residential and commercial distributed solar energy projects.

Biomass Magazine published an article about the updated version of the Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST), which now can be used for anaerobic digestion projects.

Articles in RenewableEnergyWorld.com and Solar Reviews focused on EPA's RE-Powering America's Land Initiative.


June Publications


Journal Article: "Growing a Sustainable Biofuels Industry: Economics, Environmental Considerations, and the Role of the Conservation Reserve Program"
Journal: Environmental Research Letters
Authors: Christopher M. Clark, EPA; Yolanda Lin, NREL; Britta G. Bierwagen, EPA; Laurence M. Eaton and Matthew H. Langholtz, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Philip E. Morefield and Caroline E. Ridley, EPA; Laura Vimmerstedt, NREL; Steve Peterson, Lexidyne LLC; and Brian W. Bush, NREL

This paper examines the potential role of the Conservation Reserve Program in biofuels industry development by assessing the range of environmental effects on six end points of concern and simulating differences in potential industry growth nationally using a systems dynamics model.


Technical Reports: RE-Powering America's Land Series
EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.

Subcontract Report: Built Environment Analysis Tool: April 2013
Author: Christopher D. Porter, Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
NREL Technical Monitor: Laura Vimmerstedt

This documentation describes the development of the Built Environment Analysis Tool and provides guidance on how to apply the tool.


Fact Sheet: International Trade of Biofuels
Authors: David Mulcahy and Emily Newes, NREL

This fact sheet contains a summary of the trade of biofuels among nations, including historical data on production, consumption, and trade.


Fact Sheet: International Trade of Wood Pellets
Authors: David Mulcahy and Emily Newes, NREL

This fact sheet outlines the existing and potential participants in the wood pellets market, along with historical data on production, trade, and prices.


Presentations: Ancillary Services in the United States: Independent System Operator (ISO) Perspective and Session 3: Impact on U.S. Ancillary Services Markets from Variable Renewable Energy
Author: Jaquelin Cochran, NREL

These presentations—for the Regulatory & Policy Framework for Ancillary Services & Alternative Energy Options in the Indian Power Sector—provide an overview of how increasing penetrations of variable renewable energy on the electricity grid are impacting ancillary services markets in the United States.


Presentation: Operations Expenditures: Historical Trends And Continuing Challenges
Author: Eric Lantz, NREL

This presentation for the American Wind Energy Association 2013 conference examines historical trends and continuing challenges of wind power operating expenses. Lowering such expenses could increase profitability of wind farms and contribute to lowering the cost of energy.



May 2013


21st Century Power Partnership Enabling Power System Transformation


The 21st Century Power Partnership, a multilateral, public-private collaboration led by the Clean Energy Ministerial, aims to enhance the large-scale deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy through smart policies and programs that leverage smart grid solutions and clean energy technologies.

The logo for the 21st Century Power Partnership with a sub title saying, accelerating the transformation of power systems.

The Power Partnership focuses on four key activities:

  • Supporting country-level policy and regulatory implementation
  • Developing and sharing knowledge
  • Strengthening and disseminating tools
  • Bolstering expert capacity.

As the operating agent for the Power Partnership, NREL implements Power Partnership activities based on guidance from the Clean Energy Ministerial, the United Nations, and other partners and stakeholders.



Report Finds Access to More Public Capital Could Reduce Cost of Solar and Wind Power


A new NREL report—Financing U.S. Renewable Energy Projects Through Public Capital Vehicles: Qualitative and Quantitative Benefits by Michael Mendelsohn and David Feldman—finds that increased access to public capital has the potential to reduce the cost of solar and wind energy, as measured by the levelized cost of energy (LCOE), and could significantly increase the availability of project funds. For example, the authors find that securitization, a vehicle commonly used in the home mortgage industry, could improve access to low-cost capital by engaging more investors, lowering investment risks, and introducing more diversification and liquidity.


A chart that compares the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) by using a traditional financing, debt structures or equity structures for residential and utility-scale photovoltaics when projected out to 2017. It demonstrates that debt structures are the best dollar-to-kilowatt hour with a range of approx. 12 cents to 16 cents for residential and 6 cents to 8 cents for utility-scale.

Comparison of LCOE for residential- and utility-scale solar projects under three financing structures in 2017.



NREL Analysis and Analysts in the May News


Design World posted an article on EERE's Transportation Energy Futures Study (TEF).

EPA's RE-Powering America's Land Initiative was recognized as one of the Top 25 Innovations in American Government, according to Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Over 70 renewable energy projects have been installed on contaminated sites or landfills since the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative began, representing over 215 MW of installed capacity.

Trieu Mai presented the Renewable Electricity Futures Study at the American Physical Society.

Nanowerk published an article titled "Researchers Quantify the Significant Value That Concentrating Solar Power Plants can Add to an Electric Grid" about recent NREL report Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a California 33% Renewable Scenario.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com reposted NREL blog "Risk and Finance in the PV Industry" by Travis Lowder.



May Publications


Journal Article: Co-Benefits Of Large Scale Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle And Solar PV Deployment
Journal: Journal of Power Sources
Authors: Paul Denholm, Michael Kuss, and Robert M. Margolis, NREL

This study identifies possible co-benefits of large-scale photovoltaics (PV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) deployment by simulating the Texas grid and identifying changes in peak capacity requirements and PV curtailment.


Journal Article: Estimating the Capacity Value of Concentrating Solar Power Plants with Thermal Energy Storage: A Case Study of the Southwestern United States
Journal: IEEE Transactions on Power Systems
Authors: Seyed Hossein Madaeni and Ramteen Sioshansi, The Ohio State University; Paul Denholm, NREL

This paper estimates the capacity value of concentrating solar power (CSP) plants with thermal energy storage (TES) in the southwestern United States, as well as demonstrates the effect of location and configuration on the operation and capacity value of CSP plants and shows that using a capacity payment mechanism can increase the capacity value of CSP.


Journal Article: Evaluating the Impacts of Real-Time Pricing on the Cost and Value of Wind Generation
Journal: IEEE Transactions on Power Systems
Author: Ramteen Sioshansi, The Ohio State University (formerly NREL)

A day-ahead unit commitment model with day-ahead wind forecasts and a real-time dispatch model with actual wind resource availability are used to estimate system operations in a high wind penetration scenario.


NREL Report: Sensitivity of Utility-Scale Solar Deployment Projections in the SunShot Vision Study to Market and Performance Assumptions
Authors: Kelly Eurek, Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, and Matthew Mowers, NREL

The ReEDS model was used to simulate utility PV and CSP deployment for this study, based on several market and performance assumptions—electricity demand, natural gas prices, coal retirements, cost and performance of non-solar renewable technologies, PV resource variability, distributed PV deployment, and solar market supply growth—in addition to the SunShot solar price projections.


NREL Reports: RE-Powering America's Land
EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites this year. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.


Presentation: An Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a California 33% Renewable Scenario (Report Summary)
Authors: Paul Denholm, Yih-Huei Wan, Marissa Hummon, and Mark Mehos, NREL

This presentation summarizes a recent NREL report, which evaluates concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage and other renewable options as alternatives to fossil fuel generation in California. The report assumes a scenario in which California derives 33% of its electricity from renewable sources.


Presentation: Development of Metric for Measuring the Impact of RD&D Funding on GTO's Geothermal Exploration Goals
Authors: Scott Jenne and Kate Young, NREL; Hidda Thorsteinsson, formerly DOE GTO

Prepared for the Stanford Geothermal Workshop 2013, this presentation summarizes how NREL developed a metric to measure the impacts of RD&D funding on the cost and time required for geothermal exploration activities. The resulting online tool for measuring impact and the aggregated cost and time data are available on Open EI.



April 2013


Transportation Study Highlights Potential for Deep Cuts in Petroleum Use and Emissions


An icon that represents the interconnected relationship of transportation and fuel.

Transportation accounts for 71% of total U.S. petroleum consumption and 33% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The Transportation Energy Futures (TEF) project, led by NREL for EERE, identifies opportunities for deep reductions in transportation-related petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

TEF findings spotlight strategies involving light-duty vehicles, freight, fuels, and transportation demand. By targeting areas not covered in previous analyses, TEF presents a more comprehensive view of the issues and potential solutions. The findings are detailed in a series of nine reports.

Electric Light & Power, Science Daily, CleanTechnica, Energy Daily, Utility Products, and Green Car Congress published articles on TEF.

The Environmental and Energy Studies Institute (EESI) and EERE held a briefing on the conclusions of the TEF study.



CREST Now Assesses Anaerobic Digestion


Photo of an anaerobic digestor.

Anaerobic digester. Photo by Mike Linenberger, NREL 03679

NREL recently updated the Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST)—an economic cash flow model designed to help policymakers, regulators, and the renewable energy community assess project economics, design cost-based incentives, and evaluate the impact of various state and federal support structures—to assess anaerobic digestion projects. Anaerobic digestion represents a technological advancement in the use of organic waste materials to produce energy.

CREST is a suite of four analytic tools—solar [photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal], wind, geothermal, and anaerobic digestion technologies.

Michael Mendelsohn led a recent NREL-hosted webinar on the anaerobic digestion CREST model. See the CREST web page for the recording and presentation slides.

Biomass Magazine highlighted the tool in a recent article.



NREL Analysis and Analysts in the April News


The Utility Variable Integration Group (UVIG) awarded Sam Baldwin (EERE), Maureen Hand, and Trieu Mai a 2013 Achievement Award for their work on the Renewable Electricity Futures Study. "For groundbreaking contributions in the examination of electric power system operation with very high shares of wind, solar and other renewable power options through the Renewable Electricity Futures (REF) study." This award reflects the work of the entire RE Futures team, including more than 110 people from 35 organizations.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com, Innovations Report, Environmental Research Web, North American Clean Energy, and Biomass Magazine highlighted NREL's new biomass analysis tool, High-Throughput Analytical Pyrolysis tool (HTAP), in their recent articles.

MSW Management and The Waste Business Journal published articles about Best Practices for Siting Solar Photovoltaics on Municipal Solid Waste Landfills, a recent report written for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the RE-Powering America's Land series. Gail Mosey leads NREL's support for this EPA initiative.

Barry Friedman's article, "NREL U.S. Solar Skills Report Findings," was published in Renewable Energy Focus Magazine and is now posted on RenewableEnergyFocus.com.

In November 2012, NREL convened the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group with the mission of enabling securitization of solar PV assets and associated cash flows in the marketplace—SAPC includes roughly 40 members representing organizations in the fields of solar deployment, finance, counsel, and analysis. Clean Energy Authority and Greentech Media posted articles about SAPC. Both articles discuss an NREL report.

Chapter 6 of 2013 Economic Report of the President references the JISEA report Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity.

The Renewable Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model now includes representation of the grid-connected power system in Canada. Integrated Canada-U.S. Power Sector Modeling with the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) presents example scenario and demonstrates capabilities of the Canada-U.S. version of ReEDS. ReEDS is unique among long-term capacity expansion models for its high spatial resolution and statistical treatment of the impact of variable renewable generation on capacity planning and dispatch.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com reposted an NREL blog by Paul Schwabe titled "Green Cards for Green Watts."

Sadie Cox and Caroline Uriarte led the design and delivery of the LEDS Global Partnership (LEDS GP) second annual workshop in Pattaya, Thailand. The 3-day workshop allowed 180 government officials, international organizations, and practitioners to exchange lessons learned and best practices on LEDS planning processes, analysis and tools, finance, and more. The meeting resulted in new funding commitments for LEDS, including Inter-American Development Bank support for LEDS work in the Latin America and Caribbean regional.



April Publications


NREL Report: Analysis of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a California 33% Renewable Scenario
Authors: Paul Denholm, Yih-Huei Wan, Marissa Hummon, and Mark Mehos, NREL

This analysis evaluates concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage against other renewable options as an alternative to fossil fuel generation in a scenario where California derives 33% of its electricity from renewable energy sources.


JISEA Report: Waste Not, Want Not: Analyzing the Economic and Environmental Viability of Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Technology for Site-Specific Optimization of Renewable Energy Options
Authors: Kip Funk, NREL; Jana Milford, University of Colorado at Boulder; and Travis Simpkins, NREL

This report, funded by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA), examines the viability of waste-to-energy technology as an energy source for Boulder, Colorado.


NREL Report: Economic Development from New Generation and Transmission in Wyoming and Colorado
Authors: David Keyser and Eric Lantz, NREL

This report analyzes the potential economic impacts in Colorado and Wyoming of a 225-MW natural-gas-fired electricity generation facility and a 900-MW wind farm constructed in Wyoming as well as a 180-mile, 345-kV transmission line between Wyoming and Colorado. A separate fact sheet summarizes the findings.


NREL Report: Breakeven Prices for Photovoltaics on Supermarkets in the United States
Authors: Sean Ong, Nathan Clark, Paul Denholm, and Robert Margolis, NREL

This study estimates current and future breakeven prices for PV systems installed on supermarkets in the United States. Key drivers of current and future commercial PV breakeven prices by region are also evaluated.


NREL Report: 2011 Cost of Wind Energy Review
Authors: Suzanne Tegen, Eric Lantz, Maureen Hand, Ben Maples, Aaron Smith, and Paul Schwabe, NREL

This report describes the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for a typical land-based wind project installed in the United States in 2011, as well as the modeled LCOE for a fixed-bottom offshore wind project proposed for installation in the United States in 2011.


RE-Powering America's Land Reports
EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.


Brochure: JISEA 2013 Annual Report: The Transforming Energy Economy
Author: Scott Gossett, NREL

Potentially game-changing transformation is underway in the global energy economy. The changes inspire questions about the best use of our energy resources and the impact of today's decisions on the U.S. economy and the global geopolitical landscape. These are the types of questions JISEA was created to address. This annual report looks at JISEA's accomplishments and future work.



March 2013


Fact Sheet Highlights Key NREL Analysis Products


Fact Sheet: Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC) 2012 Highlights
Authors: Jim Leyshon and Nate Blair, NREL

The cover of the 2011 Renewable Energy Data Book report.

The 2011 Renewable Energy Data Book is one of the key NREL analysis products highlighted in the new fact sheet.

NREL analysis, data, and tools inform decisions as energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies advance from concept to commercial application. This fact sheet summarizes key analysis products produced by NREL in 2012:

These products indicate the breadth of NREL's work and depth of NREL capabilities and were selected based on their immediate and ongoing impact in the public arena. For example, Indian Country referenced Navajo Generating Station and Air Visibility Regulations: Alternatives and Impacts in their recent article "Hopi and Diné Meet to Discuss Future of Navajo Generating Station," and RenewableEnergyWorld.com referred to the Renewable Electricity Futures Study in their article "The Future of Electricity Markets."

Like all NREL analysis products, these aim to increase the understanding of the current and future interactions and roles of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, environmental impacts, and infrastructure.



NREL's REopt Tool Helps Navy Reach Net-Zero Goals



A photo of the U.S. Navy's San Clemente Island wind turbine electrical power generation facility.

The U.S. armed services are using REopt to identify renewable energy projects at bases. NREL 08664

The Marine Corps, Army, and Navy are using NREL's renewable energy optimization (REopt) tool to identify and prioritize renewable energy projects at bases around the world.

REopt, a type of electronic screening tool, uses data, such as site location, energy consumption, energy rates, and space available, to identify the best options for renewable energy projects that meet client goals. Used in the early planning phases of a project, REopt helps organizations with many sites spread across multiple cities, states, or countries to direct limited resources for maximum renewable energy benefit.

That makes REopt an ideal tool for the U.S. armed services as they work to increase renewable energy use and energy independence at global bases. The U.S. Navy tasked NREL with screening all 70 Navy installations around the globe for potential renewable energy projects. From that analysis, the Navy selected the projects identified as best able to meet the service's goal of 50% of sites reaching net zero by 2020, NREL is doing similar work for the Army and Marine Corps as well.

REopt relies on a wide range of spatial data, both raw and analyzed, that is based on a geographic information system (GIS) database service developed and maintained by NREL.

"NREL developed a series of spatial data provisions and data analysis services that receive a location and/or specified area and respond with the necessary resource information for REopt to perform its analysis," said NREL GIS specialist Dan Getman.



NREL Analysis and Analysts in the March News


Slate, Media Matters, The Washington Post, Popular Science, and Slashdot all featured an NREL map by Billy Roberts in articles about the solar industry in Germany versus the United States.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com and CleanTechnica.com reposted Paul Schwabe's blog titled "Geothermal JEDI: Less Intimidating Than That Other Jedi."

RenewableEnergyWorld.com reposted Mike Mendelsohn's blog "Recapture Rapture: Can Revised Tax Credit Policies Attract More Capital to Solar?"

Thomson Reuters posted an article that references NREL's Open PV Project.

An article in Buildings discussed two recent DOE reports: Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections and Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance of System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems Using a Data-Driven Analysis from PV Installer Survey Results.



March Publications


Journal Article: Bright Future: Solar Power as a Major Contributor to the U.S. Grid
Authors: Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, Trieu Mai, Gregory Brinkman, Easan Drury, Maureen Hand, and Matthew Mowers, NREL

This journal article in Power and Energy Magazine looks at two studies—the SunShot Vision Study and the Renewable Electricity Futures Study—that can help in understanding the potential opportunities and challenges for solar deployment on a large scale.


Journal Article: Impacts of Considering Electric Sector Variability and Reliability in the MESSAGE Model
Authors: Patrick Sullivan, NREL; Volker Krey and Keywan Riahi, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

This paper introduces a methodology for incorporating metrics for electric-sector reliability into a global Integrated Assessment Model.


NREL Report: Continuing Developments in PV Risk Management: Strategies, Solutions, and Implications
Authors: Travis Lowder, Michael Mendelsohn, and Bethany Speer, NREL; Roger Hill, Sandia National Laboratories

This report discusses several key aspects of risk management during the commercial- and utility-scale project life cycle, from identification of risks, to the process of mitigating and allocating those risks among project parties, to transferring those risks through insurance. The report also explores novel techniques in PV risk management.


NREL Report: Integrated Canada-U.S. Power Sector Modeling with the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS)
Authors: Andrew Martinez, Kelly Eurek, Trieu Mai, and Andrew Perry, NREL

NREL modified the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model to include an explicit representation of the grid-connected power system in Canada to the continental United States.


NREL Report: Feasibility Study of Biopower in East Helena, Montana
Author: Kristi Moriarty, NREL

The former American Smelting and Refining Company (Asarco) smelter in East Helena, Montana, was selected for a feasibility study under the EPA's RE-Powering America's Land initiative. The renewable energy resource studied was biomass and the technology was biopower.


Presentation: Summary of: Simulating the Value of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a Production Cost Model
Authors: Paul Denholm and Marissa Hummon, NREL

This document describes the implementation of concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage in a commercial production cost model. It also describes the simulation of grid operations with CSP in a test system consisting of two balancing areas located primarily in Colorado.


Presentation: Energy Sector Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation Options to Increase Resilience
Authors: Robin L. Newmark, Dan Bilello, Jordan Macknick, KC Hallet, and Ren Anderson, NREL; Vince Tidwell, Sandia National Laboratories; and Craig Zamuda, DOE

DOE is conducting an assessment of vulnerabilities of the U.S. energy sector to climate change and extreme weather. Emphasizing peer-reviewed research, it seeks to quantify vulnerabilities and identify specific knowledge or technology gaps.



February 2013


Feasibility Studies Show Renewable Energy Options for Contaminated Sites


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when it is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL will complete RE feasibility studies for 26 selected sites in 2013. The feasibility studies assess the sites for possible renewable energy generation and recommend financing options to assist in the implementation of a system. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.

A photograph with a blue sky in the background with several wind turbines in a row beside a building behind many rows of solar arrays in the foreground.

NREL PIX 13823

The following is a list of recently published reports in the RE-Powering America's Land series.

Feasibility Study of Anaerobic Digestion of Food Waste in St. Bernard, Louisiana
Author: Kristi Moriarty, NREL

Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Kerr McGee Site in Columbus, Mississippi
Authors: Joe Simon and Gail Mosey, NREL

Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Sky Park Landfill Site in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Authors: Joe Simon and Gail Mosey, NREL

Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar PV at the Atlas Industrial Park in Duluth, Minnesota
Authors: Matthew Steen, Lars Lisell, and Gail Mosey, NREL

Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the Vincent Mullins Landfill in Tucson, Arizona
Authors: Matthew Steen, Lars Lisell, and Gail Mosey, NREL



New BITES Tool Shows CO2 Impacts of Energy Supply and Demand Choices


A screenshot of the BITES website.

The Buildings Industry Transportation Electricity Scenarios (BITES) Tool is an interactive, scenario-based tool that allows users to explore how changes in energy demand and supply can impact carbon dioxide emissions and the current U.S. energy trajectory. Using 'what-if' scenarios, users are able to adjust inputs to the electricity generation, buildings, industry, and transportation sectors in order to compare outcomes to baseline reference cases.

"Using BITES, someone could calculate how much energy could be saved by making homes and businesses more efficient," said Austin Brown, BITES project manager. "They could also look at how much petroleum could be saved by making cars, trucks, and planes more efficient. And then, the users can put it all together and look at the combined impact of these situations."

BITES launches with several featured scenarios representing the findings of high-profile studies, including NREL's Renewable Electricity Futures study.

BITES can be a useful tool for students and educators who focus on how research, policy, or other forms of national action can impact U.S. energy use. Read more information on the educational uses of BITES.

For more information, see the NREL news release.

An Energy Central article highlighted BITES and quoted Austin Brown. Articles in Energy Manager Today and R&D Magazine also featured BITES.



NREL Analysis and Analysts in the February News


Solar Daily mentions DOE report Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections in their article "The Installed Price of PV Systems in the U.S. Continues to Decline at a Rapid Pace."

Buildings and Innovations Report discussed Simulating the Value of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a Production Cost Model, an NREL report by Paul Denholm and Marissa Hummon.

NREL and IRENA collaborated on Global Atlas for Solar and Wind Energy, which was released at the IRENA Assembly. The Global Atlas is the comprehensive information platform on the potential of renewable energy. It provides resource maps from leading technical institutes worldwide and tools for evaluating the technical potential of renewable energies. It can function as a catalyst for policy development and energy planning and can support investors in entering renewable energy markets. An article in SustainableBusiness.com featured the Global Atlas.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com quoted Michael Mendelsohn in their article "Mosaic Plants Crowdfunding Flag for Solar Projects."

The Clean Energy Solutions Center designed the Global RE Opportunity Tool (REOpp) to assist policymakers and analysts in understanding the size and location of market opportunities for cost-effective deployment of renewable technologies. The Beta version, now in release, enables analysis and visualization of the technical and economic potential for solar electric technologies ranging from residential rooftop systems to utility-scale installations.

Jeffrey Logan will present a webinar titled "The Role of Natural Gas in U.S. Electric Power Futures" for the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy on February 12, 2013, at 2 p.m. EST. Register now.

An article in PennEnergy discussed two recent DOE reports: Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections and Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance of System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems Using a Data-Driven Analysis from PV Installer Survey Results.

The EERE Water Power Program announced the recent release of two resource assessment projects: Assessment and Mapping of the Riverine Hydrokinetic Resource in the Continental United States and Ocean Thermal Extractable Energy Visualization. NREL was a working partner in both assessments, and NREL released interactive mapping applications in tandem with each of these reports: MHK Atlas and River Atlas.



February Publications


NREL Report: Distributed Solar Incentive Programs: Recent Experience and Best Practices for Design and Implementation
Authors: Lori Bird, Andrew Reger, and Jenny Heeter, NREL

Based on lessons from recent program experience, this report explores best practices for designing and implementing incentives for small and mid-sized residential and commercial distributed solar energy projects.


NREL Report: Sensitivity of Rooftop PV Projections in the SunShot Vision Study to Market Assumptions
Authors: Easan Drury, Paul Denholm, and Robert Margolis, NREL

This study used the SolarDS model to explore the sensitivity of simulated rooftop PV demand to several PV market assumptions—future electricity rates, customer access to financing, and others—and SunShot PV price projections. This report finds that modeled PV demand is highly sensitive to several non-price market assumptions, particularly PV financing parameters.


JISEA Report: Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: A Program Studying Multi-Sector Opportunities and Impacts
Author: Scott Gossett, NREL

This report describes a workshop hosted by JISEA and Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE) at NREL about the priority issues for a program of rigorous research relating to natural gas.


Fact Sheet: Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Generation
Authors: Garvin Heath and Debra Sandor, NREL

This fact sheet summarizes NREL's work to develop and apply a procedure called "harmonization," which provides increased precision and helps clarify the life cycle impacts of specific electricity generation choices.


Presentation: Summary and Follow-on Recommendations of Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity
Author: Jeffrey Logan, NREL

This presentation summarized key findings of electronic power scenarios from a recent JISEA report, Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity.


Executive Summary: Executive Summary - Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity
Authors: Jeffrey Logan, Garvin Heath, and Jordan Macknick, NREL; Elizabeth Paranhos and William Boyd, University of Colorado Law School; Ken Carlson, Colorado State University

The executive summary for the JISEA report Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity provides key findings, insights, data, and figures.


Journal Article: Comparing Capacity Value Estimation Techniques for Photovoltaic Solar Power
Authors: Seyed Hossein Madaeni and Ramteen Sioshansi, The Ohio State University; Paul Denholm, NREL

This IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics paper estimates the capacity value of PV solar plants in the western United States. More robust but data- and computationally intense reliability-based estimation techniques are then compared with simpler approximation methods. If implemented properly, these techniques provide accurate approximations of reliability-based methods.


NREL Report: Resource Planning Model: An Integrated Resource Planning and Dispatch Tool for Regional Electric Systems
Authors: Trieu Mai, Easan Drury, Kelly Eurek, Natalie Bodington, Anthony Lopez, and Andrew Perry, NREL

This report introduces a new capacity expansion model, the Resource Planning Model (RPM), with high spatial and temporal resolution that can be used for mid- and long-term scenario planning of regional power systems.



January 2013


Report Explores Synergies Between Natural Gas and Renewable Energy


NREL Report: Opportunities for Synergy Between Natural Gas and Renewable Energy in the Electric Power and Transportation Sectors
Authors: April Lee, Owen Zinaman, and Jeffrey Logan, NREL

Both natural gas and renewable energy have been touted as key elements of a transition to a cleaner and more secure energy future, but much of the current discourse considers each in isolation or concentrates on the competitive impacts of one on the other. This paper, instead, explores potential synergies between natural gas and renewable energy in the U.S. electric power and transportation sectors. The authors attempt to identify how the natural gas and renewable energy communities might:

  • Promote a new systems approach to natural gas and renewable energy technologies
  • Jointly research mutually beneficial policy and market structure options
  • Communicate with each other, and jointly to the public, to clarify misconceptions.
A chart showing the growth of U.S. natural gas production from 1990-2011 in trillions of cubic feet that illustrates the growth of coalbed methane, tight gas, and shale gas and the impact this expansion has had on the contiguous U.S.'s onshore and offshore natural gas production. The chart starts at a total of ~17.5 trillion cubic feet and ends at ~22 trillion total with coalbed, tight and shale gas having a total of ~2.5 trillion in 1990 and ~14 trillion as an annual total in 2011.

U.S. natural gas production has increased in recent years

This report is the latest entry in a growing body of work by NREL and the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) looking at the impacts and implications of the U.S. shale gas revolution on domestic and global energy markets.



New Version of SAM Aids Modeling of Wind, PV, CSP, Geothermal, and Biopower


A new version of NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM)—a performance and financial model that makes performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects—offers many new features for modeling wind, photovoltaic (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), geothermal, and biopower systems.

The latest version lets users:

  • Automatically download incentive data from DSIRE database
  • Export cash flow to Excel with formulas
  • Export data using new report templates
  • Use typical wind data files for representative locations in the United States
  • Estimate system costs using NREL wind capital cost model for onshore and offshore wind farms
  • Take advantage of new life cycle emissions model for the biopower model
  • Access more rates in utility rate database from OpenEI.
A screenshot showing the SAM user interface.

SAM displays monthly electricity generation and annual cash flow for a photovoltaic system.

The new features are described in detail on the SAM website, where you can download the software for free.



NREL Analysis and Analysts in the January News


NREL's Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST) now allows for modeling cash flows from anaerobic digestion (i.e., biogas) projects.

Harvard Magazine and New Energy News highlighted JISEA's recent report Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity. Additionally, Windpower Engineering and Development, Wyoming Business Report, and Design World quoted Garvin Heath on the report.

Cape Cod Times quoted the 2010 NREL report Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the United States in their article "What Would Sandy Do to Turbines?"

The Denver Post quoted Kristen Ardani in the article "Denver Recognized for Keeping Lid on Solar Installation Costs" about the recent DOE report Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance of System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems Using a Data-Driven Analysis from PV Installer Survey Results.

Articles in North American Clean Energy, Solar Power World, and Environmental Protection discussed two recent DOE reports: Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections and Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance of System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems Using a Data-Driven Analysis from PV Installer Survey Results.

SNL quoted Jenny Heeter about voluntary markets in their article "U.S. Needs 93 GW Renewable Power Capacity by 2035 to Meet States' RPS." (Login required)

ThinkProgress's article "U.S. Natural Gas Capacity Must Peak Soon to Achieve Sustainable Pathway" mentions NREL's Renewable Electricity Futures Study.

NREL recently launched the Exploration Cost and Time Metric tool, which graphically displays the cumulative impact of one or multiple research, development, and deployment (RD&D) efforts on exploration cost and time. The tool has been developed from industry research and was vetted through geothermal exploration experts as a useful baseline from which to measure funding impacts.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com reposted two NREL blogs: "Drilling for Dollars: Notable Developments in Geothermal Finance" and "To Insure or Not to Insure: PV's New Fangled Warranty Insurance Option," both by Travis Lowder.

Environmental Expert discussed Simulating the Value of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a Production Cost Model, an NREL report by Paul Denholm and Marissa Hummon.



January Publications


Presentation: Life Cycle GHG Emissions from Conventional Natural Gas Power Generation: Systematic Review and Harmonization
Authors: Garvin Heath and Patrick O'Donoughue, NREL; Michael Whitaker, ICF International

Presented at InLCA XII, this research provides a systematic review and harmonization of the life cycle assessment (LCA) literature of natural gas-fired electricity generation.


Conference Paper: Sub-Hour Solar Data for Power System Modeling From Static Spatial Variability Analysis: Preprint
Authors: Marissa Hummon, Eduardo Ibanez, Gregory Brinkman, and Debra Lew, NREL

This paper, presented at the 2nd International Workshop on Integration of Solar Power in Power Systems in Lisbon, Portugal, summarizes the research relating sequential point-source sub-hour global horizontal irradiance (GHI) values to static, spatially distributed GHI values.


Journal Article: Operational Water Consumption and Withdrawal Factors for Electricity Generating Technologies: A Review of Existing Literature
Authors: Jordan Macknick, Robin Newmark, Garvin Heath, and KC Hallett, NREL

This paper, published in Environmental Research Letters, evaluates water withdrawal and consumption values for all types of electricity generating technologies.


Journal Article: The Water Implications of Generating Electricity: Water Use Across the United States Based on Different Electricity Pathways Through 2050
Authors: Jordan Macknick, NREL; Sandra Sattler, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS); Kristen Averyt, University of Colorado-Boulder; and Steve Clemmer and John Rogers, UCS

This paper, published in Environmental Research Letters, utilizes outputs from the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model to explore potential national and regional changes in water withdrawal and consumption by the U.S. electric sector over the next four decades under various low carbon energy scenarios.


NREL Report: Impacts of Regional Electricity Prices and Building Type on the Economics of Commercial Photovoltaic Systems
Authors: Sean Ong, Clinton Campbell, and Nathan Clark, NREL

NREL evaluated 207 rate structures across 77 locations and 16 commercial building types to identify the impacts of regional electricity prices and building type on the economics of solar PV systems.


Journal Article: Linking Electricity and Water Models to Assess Electricity Choices at Water-Relevant Scales
Authors: Sandra Sattler, UCS; Jordan Macknick, NREL; David Yates, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Francisco Flores-Lopez, Stockholm Environment Institute; Anthony Lopez, NREL; and John Rogers (UCS)

This paper, published in Environmental Research Letters, describes a platform for assessing power plant cooling water withdrawals and consumption under different electricity pathways by connecting ReEDS to a hydrologic and water management model—the Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system.