Energy Analysis Newsletter — November 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 energy analysis community. Here is the latest news on energy analysis activities at NREL:
November Seminar: A View of Clean Energy from a Wall Street Analyst
On November 12, 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 a view of clean energy from Wall Street. Clean energy should be a critical player in the sixth technology revolution. Half energy and half technology, "cleantech" requires the patience and funding of energy but promises the disruptive potential of classic technology. To investors, alternative energy tends to mean wind and solar, but this group also sees opportunities that are broadening to other areas. In this seminar, Steven Milunovich, of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will discuss how analysts expect the sector to take off when subsidies become less necessary.
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
- December 10, 2009 (Washington, D.C.)
"Consumer Smart Grid Technology and Related Research Areas" — Cameron Brooks (Tendril Inc.)
- 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: State of the States Renewable Energy
The Technical Assistance Project (TAP) for state and local officials will sponsor a Web seminar on November 18 that will examine states' renewable energy development. The presentation, which will be from 3 to 4:15 p.m. (ET), is titled "State of the States 2009: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy." NREL Senior Energy Analyst Joyce McLaren will discuss the report, which examines the status of renewable energy development in each of the U.S. states using a variety of metrics. She will also highlight some of the policies being used to encourage this development.
See "State RE Development and Policy" in Publications section for more on the report.
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.
Download Adobe Reader
Wind Energy Costs
SEAC analysts Karlynn Cory and Paul Schwabe recently published the report "Wind Levelized Cost of Energy: A Comparison of Technical and Financing Input Variables." (PDF 749 KB)
This report assesses the relative impact of numerous financing, technical, and operating variables on the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) associated with a wind project under various financing structures in the U.S. marketplace. Under this analysis, the impacts of several financial and technical variables on the cost of wind energy are first examined individually to better understand the relative importance of each. Then, analysts examine a low-cost and a high-cost financing scenario, where multiple variables are modified simultaneously. Lastly, the analysis also considers the impact of a suite of financial variables versus a suite of technical variables.
NREL analysts Elizabeth Doris, Claire Kreycik, and Katherine Young recently published the report "Policy Overview and Options for Maximizing the Role of Policy in Geothermal Electricity Development" (PDF 858 KB)
Geothermal electricity production capacity has grown over time because of multiple factors, including its renewable, baseload, and domestic attributes; volatile and high prices for competing technologies; and policy intervention. Overarching federal policies, namely the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), provided certainty to project investors in the 1980s, leading to a boom in geothermal development. In addition to market expansion through PURPA, research and development policies provided an investment of public dollars toward developing technologies and reducing costs over time to increase the market competitiveness of geothermal electricity. Together, these efforts are cited in the report as the primary policy drivers for the currently installed capacity.
NREL analyst Robert Margolis, along with coauthors John E. Bartlett of New West Technologies and Charles E. Jennings of Financial Analytics Consulting Corporation, recently published the report "Effects of the Financial Crisis on Photovoltaics: An Analysis of Changes in Market Forecasts from 2008 to 2009" (PDF 539 KB)
For the capital-intensive photovoltaic (PV) sector, the tightening of credit resulting from the global financial crisis has the potential to significantly inhibit the industry's growth. More expensive and less available financing diminishes both PV demand (by making photovoltaic installations less attractive and more difficult investments), as well as PV supply (by curtailing the expansion of photovoltaic manufacturing capacity). Indirect effects from the financial crisis, such as lower wealth and income, reduced natural gas prices and expansionary fiscal policies, are also likely to affect the PV sector. To better understand the effects of the financial crisis on the photovoltaic industry, the authors surveyed the market forecasts of industry analysts. In this paper, the authors analyze the median and range of the forecasts made in third quarter 2008 and first quarter 2009 as well as the median and range of changes in forecasts made by the same analyst. From this analysis, the authors infer how the financial crisis has impacted industry expectations of supply, demand, and pricing during the next several years.
Energy Models for Future Renewables
NREL staff members Nate Blair, Thomas Jenkin, James Milford, Walter Short, and Patrick Sullivan partnered with David Evans and Elliot Lieberman of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gary Goldstein and Evelyn Wright of International Resources Group, Kamala R. Jayaraman and Boddu Venkatesh of ICF International, Gary Kleiman of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, Christopher Namovicz and Bob Smith of the Energy Information Administration, Karen Palmer of Resources for the Future, Ryan Wiser of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Frances Wood of OnLocation to publish "Renewable Energy and Efficiency Modeling Analysis Partnership (REMAP): An Analysis of How Different Energy Models Addressed a Common High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario in 2025" (PDF 6.2 MB)
This paper shows the importance of using multiple models to provide results to a proposed policy or scenario, whenever possible. With only one model, the results would be similar to one of the Base Case runs (which had great variance in outputs between models), but any sense of this potential uncertainty due to underlying assumptions is difficult to determine. Second, some models are better than others for specific questions (e.g., a single-region model of the United States has a different focus than a model that focuses only on California) — and such potential limitations are not always made clear when relying on a single model. When evaluating modeled results, it is important to know what level of confidence is appropriate. This report shows that significant variation in forecast outcomes exists among models, and that input variations can amplify those differences.
State RE Development and Policy
State RE Development and Policy
NREL analysts Elizabeth Doris, Joyce McLaren, Victoria Healey, and Stephen Hockett recently published the report "State of the States 2009: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy" (PDF 4.18 MB)
As U.S. states increasingly focus on developing renewable energy resources, there is a need to track the progress of development, as well as the policies and support mechanisms being implemented to encourage this development. Beyond tracking, the evaluation of policy measures is necessary to determine their effectiveness, guide future efforts, and efficiently allocate resources. This report addresses each of these needs. It provides a detailed picture of the status of renewable energy development in each of the U.S. states using a variety of metrics and discusses the policies being used to encourage this development. The report then explores the context in which renewable energy development occurs by discussing the factors that can affect the uptake of power generation technologies. The analysis offers suggestions on how policies can be used to address these variables, which leads to tailored policy support that considers the specific circumstances within each state.
For a condensed summary, you can also visit the new "State of the States" section on the EERE Web site.
Photovoltaic Installation Data
NREL and DOE recently announced the "beta" or prototype release of the Open PV Mapping Project. NREL and DOE recently launched a collaborative effort among government, industry, and the public that will develop a comprehensive database of photovoltaic (PV) installation data for the United States. The project is the largest installation database with more than 50,000 entries. The project will provide a Web-based resource for users to easily understand the current status and past progress of the PV industry from the data that show current and recent trends of the PV market. Additionally, users may add their own PV installation data, browse PV data entered by others, and view statistics. Moving forward, NREL will add additional data and use this information to drive further analysis of market growth.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis Web site.