Energy Analysis Newsletter — January 2010
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:
January Seminar: RE Development in U.S. States and the Role of Policy
On January 14, 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) to discuss state renewable energy development and the role of policy. Tracking the progress of renewable energy development within the U.S. states — and developing an understanding of how policy measures are affecting that development — provides valuable information to state policy makers, industry players, and those with an interest in renewable energy trends and status. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) "State of the States" (PDF 4.18 MB) Download Adobe Reader report provides these audiences with current information on renewable energy development and relevant policies at the state level, and investigates policy effectiveness through a quantitative analysis of the link between policy and development. In this seminar, NREL analyst Joyce McLaren will give an overview of the report and the information it presents.
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
- 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 and Sustainability Planning
The Technical Assistance Project (TAP) for state and local officials will sponsor a Web seminar on January 27 that will examine energy and sustainability planning. The presentation, which will be from 3 to 4:15 p.m. (ET), is titled "Strategic Energy and Sustainability Planning in El Paso, Texas." Presenters Alexander Dane and Brian Levite, of NREL; and Marty Howell, of the City of El Paso, will discuss how state and local government officials can create and implement a strategic energy plan. Officials will also hear how the City of El Paso, Texas, developed its strategic energy plan, which included energy performance goals. Finally, participants will get frank commentary on lessons learned from a recent sustainability summit held in El Paso.
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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Interstate Commerce for Renewable Power
NREL analyst David Hurlbut recently published the report "Colorado's Prospects for Interstate Commerce in Renewable Power" for the Colorado Governor's Energy Office (GEO) Renewable Energy Development Infrastructure (REDI) Project. (PDF 2.1 MB)
Colorado has more renewable energy potential than it is ever likely to need for its own in-state electricity consumption. Such abundance may suggest an opportunity for the state to sell renewable power elsewhere, but Colorado faces considerable competition from other Western states that may have better resources and easier access to key markets on the West Coast. This report examines factors that will be important to the development of interstate commerce for electricity generated from renewable resources. It also examines market fundamentals in a regional context, and then looks at the implications for Colorado. For more about the project, access the REDI section of the Governor's Energy Office Web site.
Break-Even Cost for Residential PV
SEAC analysts Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, Sean Ong, and Billy Roberts recently published the report "Break-Even Cost for Residential Photovoltaics in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities." (PDF 1.3 MB)
Grid parity—or break-even cost—for photovoltaic (PV) technology is defined as the point where the cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid. Break-even cost is expressed in dollars per watt ($/W) of an installed system. Achieving break-even cost is a function of many variables. Consequently, break-even costs vary by location and time for a country, such as the United States, with a diverse set of resources, electricity prices, and other variables. In this report, NREL analyzes PV break-even costs for U.S. residential customers. The analysts evaluate some key drivers of grid parity both regionally and over time and also examine the impact of moving from flat to time-of-use (TOU) rates. They also evaluate individual components of the break-even cost, including effect of rate structure and various incentives. Finally, SEAC analysts examine how PV markets might evolve on a regional basis considering the sensitivity of the break-even cost to four major drivers: technical performance, financing parameters, electricity prices and rates, and policies. The analysts find that local incentives rather than "technical" parameters are, in general, the key drivers of the break-even cost of PV. Additionally, this analysis provides insight about the potential viability of PV markets.
Financing Renewable Energy Projects
NREL recently released the third in its series of fact sheets on financing renewable energy projects — this one discusses clean renewable energy bonds. Upcoming topics include property assessments. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Karlynn Cory.
Financing Public Sector Projects with Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (PDF 448 KB)
Clean renewable energy bonds (CREBs) present a low-cost opportunity for public entities to issue bonds to finance renewable energy projects. The federal government lowers the cost of debt by providing a tax credit to the bondholders in lieu of interest payments from the issuer. Because CREBs are theoretically interest free, they may be more attractive than traditional tax-exempt municipal bonds. In February 2009, Congress appropriated $2.4 billion for the "New CREBs" program. No more than one-third of the budget may be allocated to each of the eligible entities: (1) governmental bodies, (2) electric cooperatives, and (3) public power providers. While the total budget has been allocated by the Internal Revenue Service, this fact sheet explains the CREBs mechanism and provides guidance on procedures related to issuing CREBs.
Open Energy Information Site
The Department of Energy (DOE) has launched Open Energy Information, a new open-source Web platform that makes DOE resources and "open" energy data widely available to the public. NREL staff worked closely with DOE to develop and populate the Open Energy Information (OpenEI) platform. The site currently houses more than 60 clean energy resources and data sets, including maps of worldwide solar and wind potential, information on climate zones, and resources on best practices. The data and tools housed on the free, editable, and evolving wiki-platform will be used by government officials, the private sector, project developers, the international community, and others to help deploy clean energy technologies across the country and around the world. Members of the American public and the global energy community can upload additional data to the site and download information in easy-to-use formats. The site will also provide technical resources, including U.S. lab tools, which can be used by developing countries as they move toward clean energy deployment. Over time, the portal is expected to include online training and technical expert networks. NREL will continue to develop, monitor, and maintain the platform.
Analysts Meet With Stakeholders
Doug Arent, Dan Bilello, and Ron Benioff of NREL attended the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 6-13. SEAC Director Doug Arent discussed the status of renewable energy during an event hosted by the European Commission. NREL representatives also presented DOE/EERE-sponsored work on clean energy technology cooperation options under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during a side event. The group demonstrated the OpenEI portal (see related item above) at a joint event with DOE and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). SEAC representatives conducted meetings with key NREL partners to advance joint work, and assisted the DOE and USAID representatives in evaluation of UNFCCC climate technology programs and preparation of related concepts. They also met with key international institutions interested in joining CLEAN — Coordinated Low Emission Assistance Network — and discussed the new international clean energy analysis "gateway" for developing countries that NREL has established with DOE/EERE support.
On December 9, Bobi Garrett (NREL senior vice president of Outreach, Planning, and Analysis) met with representatives of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and provided a tour of NREL's research facilities. DLR and NREL partner on concentrating solar power (CSP) technology development and solar resource assessment analyses.
NREL analyst Barry Friedman worked with DOE to help establish four collaborative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the United States and Israel. With financial support of DOE and the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures, the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation competitively selected the finalists for the cooperative clean energy projects. The BIRD Executive Committee made the project selections during a meeting at the NREL offices in Washington, D.C.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis Web site.