Energy Analysis Newsletter — December 2009
Energy analysis at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) encompasses a broad range of energy analysis in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), NREL programs and initiatives, and the analysis community. Here is the latest news on energy analysis activities at NREL:
December Seminar: Smart Grid Technology
On December 10, NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC) and DOE/EERE's Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis (PBA) will present a seminar (in Washington, D.C.) discussing smart grid technology. The "smart grid" has emerged as a national priority. The need to modernize the grid is highlighted by the opportunities to integrate renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce peak loads. The key to achieving these and other policy objectives is engaging the consumer (and smart devices) as active participants in energy markets. Tendril Inc. develops software and hardware that is being used by utilities around the country to deliver real-time energy information, enable automated control of devices, and allow participation in new dynamic rate structures. Cameron Brooks, of Tendril, will provide an overview of the current consumer market for smart grid devices, insight into trends in the utility industry, and views of important actions being taken by federal agencies. In addition, he will discuss potential research opportunities that could help accelerate market development for consumer applications of the smart grid.
For more information on the seminar series — including log-in and call-in information for remote access — visit the Web site.
Upcoming Energy Analysis Seminars
- January 14, 2010 (Golden, Colorado)
"State of the States" — Joyce McLaren (NREL)
- February 11, 2010 (Golden, Colorado)
"Renewable Energy Optimization Tool" — Andy Walker (NREL)
- March 11, 2010 (Golden, Colorado)
"Butanol: Views from the Field" — Sam Nejame (Promotum)
TAP Web Seminar: Energy Performance Contracting
The Technical Assistance Project (TAP) for state and local officials will sponsor a Web seminar on December 16 that will examine energy performance contracting. The presentation, which will be from 3 to 4:15 p.m. (ET), is titled "Introduction to Energy Performance Contracting." Presenters Dustin Knutson, of NREL, and Jim Arwood, of the Arizona Energy Office, will discuss how state and local government officials can use energy savings performance contracts to reduce utility bills in government facilities with no up-front capital investment. Officials will also learn how to use funding from the 2009 Recovery Act to initiate performance contracts for long-term savings. Managers of a performance contract in Arizona will also provide insight on how this concept is being used in their state.
You can register to attend the seminar, read about the presenter, and find links to background materials and reports on the TAP Section of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program Web site.
Publications and Web Sites
Some of the documents in this section are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs.
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State Tax Incentives
NREL analysts Eric Lantz and Elizabeth Doris recently published the report "State Clean Energy Policies Analysis (SCEPA): State Tax Incentives" (PDF 708 KB)
As a policy tool, state tax incentives can be structured to help states meet clean energy goals. Policymakers often use state tax incentives in concert with state and federal policies to support renewable energy deployment or reduce market barriers. This analysis uses case studies of four states to assess the contributions of state tax incentives to the development of renewable energy markets. State tax incentives that are appropriately paired with complementary state and federal policies generally provide viable mechanisms to support renewable energy deployment. However, challenges to successful implementation of state tax incentives include serving project owners with limited state tax liability, assessing appropriate incentive levels, and differentiating levels of incentives for technologies with different costs. This report highlights important policy design considerations for policymakers using state tax incentives to meet clean energy goals.
Documentation on Solar Model
SEAC analysts Paul Denholm, Easan Drury, and Robert Margolis recently published the report "Solar Deployment System (SolarDS) Model: Documentation and Sample Results" (PDF 973 KB)
The Solar Deployment System (SolarDS) model is a bottom-up, market-penetration model that simulates the potential adoption of photovoltaics (PV) on residential and commercial rooftops in the continental United States through 2030. NREL developed SolarDS to examine the market competitiveness of PV based on regional solar resources, capital costs, electricity prices, utility rate structures, and federal and local incentives. This report provides details on the model, which uses the projected financial performance of PV systems to simulate PV adoption for building types and regions then aggregates adoption to state and national levels.
Western Renewable Energy Zones
Ryan Pletka and Josh Finn, of Black and Veatch, worked with NREL analyst David Hurlbut to publish the report "Western Renewable Energy Zones, Phase 1: QRA Identification Technical Report" (PDF 8.0 MB)
This report describes the Western Renewable Energy Zones (WREZ) Initiative Phase 1 Qualified Resource Area identification process, including the identification and economic analysis of Qualified Resource Areas (QRAs) and "non-REZ" resources. These data and analyses will assist the Western United States in its renewable energy transmission planning goals. The economic analysis in this report produced the input data for the WREZ Generation and Transmission Model (GTM), which is a screening-level model to determine the optimal routing for and cost of delivering renewable energy from QRAs to load centers throughout the Western Interconnection. In June 2009, the Western Governors' Association accepted the WREZ Phase 1 Report, in which the QRAs were mapped and the entire WREZ Phase 1 process was explained in general. That same month, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released the WREZ GTM, which was developed by Black & Veatch. This report details the assumptions and methodologies that were used to produce the maps and resource analyses in the WGA report as well as the economic data used by the WREZ model. This report also provides the results of the non-REZ resource analysis for the first time.
Financing Renewable Energy Projects
NREL recently released the second in its series of fact sheets on financing renewable energy projects — this one discusses power purchase agreements. Upcoming topics include clean renewable energy bonds and property assessments. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Karlynn Cory.
Power Purchase Agreement Checklist for State and Local Governments (PDF 1.0 MB)
The power purchase agreement (PPA) financing model is a "third-party" ownership model, which requires a separate, taxable entity ("system owner") to procure, install, and operate a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on a consumer's premises (i.e., the government agency). This fact sheet provides information and guidance on the third-party owned solar PV power purchase agreement, which can be used by state and local government entities to acquire clean, renewable energy. The government agency enters into a long-term contract (typically referred to as the PPA) to purchase 100% of the electricity generated by the system from the system owner. This fact sheet — which is written to support decision makers in U.S. state and local governments — addresses the financial, logistical, and legal questions relevant to implementing a PPA.
Analysts Meet With Stakeholders
SEAC analyst Jeff Logan hosted a group of 12 journalists from leading newspapers in the Asia Pacific region on November 5. The event was coordinated by the East West Center in Hawaii and included representatives from China, India, Australia, the United States, Japan, Sri Lanka, and a half-dozen other nations. The journalists came to NREL to learn about the role of renewable energy in addressing climate change.
NREL hosted wind analysts from the China Hydroelectric Engineering Consulting Company (HydroChina) on November 9-12. These technical partners from HydroChina are the Chinese government's primary analysts for wind policy, planning, and implementation. The meeting included updates on ongoing work and consultations with staff at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). NREL and HydroChina are developing geospatial methods for assessing and planning gigawatt-scale wind areas in China.
On November 16, Karlynn Cory, analysis team lead for Renewable Energy Project Finance, presented a project update to the Committee on Energy Resources and Environment at the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Chicago, Illinois. The presentation updated the NARUC Committee on a DOE-NARUC Solar Partnership, where commissioners asked NREL for technical assistance on a) feed-in tariff policies, b) solar resource and costs at seven locations, and c) integrating photovoltaics into urban secondary networks.
On November 18-19, NREL analyst Barry Friedman spoke at the 2009 New Ideas in Educating a Workforce in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference in Albany, New York.
SEAC analysts Lori Bird, David Hurlbut, and Karlynn Cory presented at the National Summit on Renewable Portfolio Standards in Chicago, Illinois, on November 18-19. The summit is the annual gathering of the State-Federal Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) Collaborative, which is funded in part by DOE. The event allows state RPS administrators to share best practices, lessons learned, and potential federal and state RPS interaction issues, if a federal RPS were enacted.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis Web site.