Energy Analysis Newsletter — October 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:
October Seminar: Demand Response and Capacity Value
On October 8, NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC) and DOE/EERE's Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis (PBA) will present a seminar (in Golden, Colorado) discussing demand response. Critical peak electricity pricing and peak-time rebate programs are two forms of "demand response" that are increasingly part of the policy agenda in the United States. Similar to other types of demand response (changing the level of demand during peak periods), much of the programs' value comes from the capacity benefits they provide by avoiding the need to build new peaking power plants. Using a simulation of the California Independent System Operator System (CAISO) system, analysts have shown that these benefits decrease substantially as the size of the programs grows relative to the system size. During this seminar, Robert Earle and Edo Macan (Analysis Group) will discuss how more flexible schemes for deployment of demand response can help address the decreasing returns to scale in capacity value; but how more flexible demand response has decreasing returns to scale as well.
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
- November 12, 2009
"A Stock Analyst's View of Renewable Energy Technologies" — Steven Milunovich (Merrill Lynch)
- December 10, 2009
"Consumer Smart Grid Technology and Related Research Areas" — Cameron Brooks (Tendril Inc.)
TAP Web Seminar: Feed-In Tariff Policies
The Technical Assistance Project (TAP) for state and local officials will sponsor a Web seminar on October 28 that discusses feed-in tariffs. The presentation, which will be 3-4:15 p.m. (EDT), is titled "Feed-In Tariffs: Best Practices and Application in the United States." During this presentation, speaker Karlynn Cory of NREL will discuss feed-in tariff (FIT) policies and explore the different FIT policies implemented in the United States. She will also highlight a few proposed policies as well as the best practices in FIT policy design, and examine how FITs can be used to target state policy goals.
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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Land Use for Wind Energy
NREL analysts Paul Denholm, Maureen Hand, Maddalena Jackson and Sean Ong recently published the report "Land-Use Requirements of Modern Wind Power Plants in the United States" (PDF 1.1 MB).
This report provides data and analysis of the land use associated with modern, large wind power plants (defined as greater than 20 megawatts and constructed after 2000). The analysis discusses standard land-use metrics as established in the life-cycle assessment literature, and then discusses their applicability to wind power plants. The report identifies two major "classes" of wind plant land use: 1) direct impact (i.e., disturbed land due to physical infrastructure development), and 2) total area (i.e., land associated with the complete wind plant project). The analysis — which identifies relationships among land use, wind plant configuration, and geography — evaluated 172 existing or proposed projects representing more than 26 GW of capacity. In addition to providing land-use data and summary statistics, they identify several limitations to the existing wind project area datasets, and suggest additional analysis that could aid in evaluating actual land use and impacts associated with deployment of wind energy.
State Bioenergy Primer
NREL staff members Laura Vimmerstedt, Elizabeth Doris, Anelia Milbrandt, and Robi Robichaud recently partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency to produce "State Bioenergy Primer: Information and Resources for States on Issues, Opportunities, and Options for Advancing Bioenergy" (PDF 5.3 MB).
Across the country, states are looking for ways to tackle their energy, environmental, and climate change challenges through a variety of approaches. One frequently discussed option is the use of biomass resources to develop bioenergy — bioheat, biopower, biofuels, and bioproducts. Many information resources are available that discuss biomass/bioenergy in a highly technical manner and/or that focus only on one feedstock (e.g., forest residues, agricultural crops) or product (e.g., biofuels). Alternately, some entities present bioenergy information that is relevant to the general public but is too simplified for decision makers. The "State Bioenergy Primer" is designed to bring many of these resources together and provide useful, targeted information that will help a state decision maker determine whether he/she wants or needs more details.
Wind and Solar Resources in Bhutan
NREL analysts Shannon Cowlin and Donna Heimiller, along with contractor Paul Gilman, recently published the report "Potential for Development of Solar and Wind Resource in Bhutan" (PDF 2.2 MB).
With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), NREL recently produced maps and data of the wind and solar resources in Bhutan. These were used to explore how wind and solar power could potentially contribute to Bhutan's electricity mix, which is currently dominated by hydropower. This report explores the electricity generation potential of wind farms and flat-plate solar collectors under various scenarios developed in consultation with the Royal Government of Bhutan. The information provided in this report will be of use to energy planners in Bhutan involved in developing energy policy or planning wind and solar projects, and to energy analysts around the world interested in gaining an understanding of Bhutan's wind and solar energy potential.
Renewable Energy Markets
The following reports were presented during the Renewable Energy Markets 2009 conference in Atlanta on September 13-16.
Status of Green Power Marketing
SEAC analysts Lori Bird, Claire Kreycik, and Barry Friedman recently published "Green Power Marketing in the United States: A Status Report (2008 Data)" (PDF 880 KB).
Voluntary consumer decisions to buy electricity supplied from renewable energy sources represent a powerful market support mechanism for renewable energy development. In the early 1990s, a small number of U.S. utilities began offering "green power" options to their customers. Since then, these products have become more prevalent, both from traditional utilities and from renewable energy marketers operating in states that have introduced competition into their retail electricity markets or offering renewable energy certificates (RECs) online. This report documents green power marketing activities and trends in the United States including utility green pricing programs offered in regulated electricity markets; green power marketing activity in competitive electricity markets, as well as green power sold to voluntary purchasers in the form of RECs; and renewable energy sold as greenhouse gas offsets in the United States.
Expenditures for Green Power Marketing
NREL analysts Barry Friedman and Mackay Miller recently published the report "Green Pricing Program Marketing Expenditures: Finding the Right Balance" (PDF 1.1 MB).
In practice, it is difficult to determine the optimal amount to spend on marketing and administering a green pricing program. Budgets for marketing and administration of green pricing programs are a function of several factors: the region of the country; the size of the utility service area; the customer base and media markets encompassed within that service area; the point or stage in the lifespan of the program; and certainly, not least, the utility's commitment to and goals for the program. All of these factors vary significantly among programs — this report presents data on programs that have funded both marketing and program administration. This report also addresses the role of renewable energy credit (REC) marketers and start-up costs — and the role of marketing, in general, for achieving program objectives such as expansion of renewable energy.
Analysts Meet With Stakeholders
On September 2, NREL staff members Gail Mosey and Otto VanGeet hosted visitors from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) headquarters and regional offices. The group included EPA revitalization coordinators interested in renewable energy technology applications on formerly or presently environmentally contaminated lands — these areas are often candidates for remediation, monitoring, and revitalization. Their visit included a tour of NREL's Solar Energy Research Facility, Science and Technology Facility, and the National Wind Technology Center.
NREL Director Dan Arvizu, SEAC Director Doug Arent, and SEAC analyst Maureen Hand recently attended the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expert meeting on renewable energy in Oslo, Norway. Participants discussed assessing the mitigation potential of renewable energy technology solutions and other issues. NREL researcher Walt Musial also attended the author meetings for the special report on renewable energy.
SEAC analysts Maureen Hand and Karlynn Cory attended a working meeting on the cost of wind energy in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sept 10-11. Topics included preliminary results of cost of wind energy analysis between countries and an examination of how these costs change over time (bottom-up engineering estimates and top-down experience/learning curves).
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis Web site.