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:
July Seminar: Keeping Score of Clean Energy Markets
On July 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) highlighting clean energy markets. It has been 10 years since the first renewable energy certificates (RECs) were sold to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — and a lot has happened since that time. The market has expanded tremendously and REC accounting has become more sophisticated as well. This presentation by Jan Hamrin, of HMW International, will discuss the pros and cons of using the regional REC tracking systems to support a federal renewable energy standard and how these systems could be adjusted to also support energy efficiency and environmental attribute trading. The presentation will discuss the pros and cons of combining regional REC systems with federal RECs and the benefits and disadvantages of integrating energy efficiency certificates and carbon credits into regional or national accounting systems.
Upcoming Energy Analysis Seminars
- August 12, 2010 (Washington, D.C.)
"Greenhouse Gas Implications of Deconstruction" — Elise Zelechowski, Delta Institute (Washington D.C.)
For more information on the seminar series — including log-in and call-in information for remote access — visit the Web site.
Publications and Web Sites
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State, Utility, and Municipal Loan Programs
SEAC analyst Eric Lantz recently published the report "State Clean Energy Policies Analysis: State, Utility, and Municipal Loan Programs" (PDF 668 KB).
High initial costs can impede the deployment of clean energy technologies. Financing can reduce these costs. And, state, municipal, and utility-sponsored loan programs have emerged to fill the gap between clean energy technology financing needs and private sector lending. In general, public loan programs are more favorable to clean energy technologies than are those offered by traditional lending institutions; however, public loan programs address only the high up-front costs of clean energy systems, and the technology installed under these loan programs rarely supports clean energy production at levels that have a notable impact on the broader energy sector. This report discusses ways to increase the impact of these loan programs and suggests related policy design considerations.
Techno-Economic Analysis on Production of Cellulosic Ethanol
F. Kabir Kazi, J. Fortman, and R. Anex of Iowa State University; G. Kothandaraman of ConocoPhillips Company; and David Hsu, Andy Aden, and Abhijit Dutta of NREL recently published the report "Techno-Economic Analysis of Biochemical Scenarios for Production of Cellulosic Ethanol" (PDF 1.8 MB).
A techno-economic analysis on the production of cellulosic ethanol by fermentation was conducted to understand the viability of liquid biofuel production processes within the next 5-8 years. Initially, 35 technologies were reviewed; then, a two-step down selection was performed to choose scenarios to be evaluated in a more detailed economic analysis. The lignocellulosic ethanol process was selected because it is well studied, and portions of the process have been tested at pilot scales. Seven process variations were selected and examined in detail. Process designs were constrained to public data published in 2007 or earlier, without projecting for future process improvements. Economic analysis was performed for an "nth plant" (mature technology) to obtain total investment and product value (PV). Sensitivity analysis was performed on PV to assess the impact of variations in process and economic parameters. Results show that the modeled dilute acid pretreatment process without any downstream process variation had the lowest PV of $3.40/gallon of ethanol ($5.15/gallon of gasoline equivalent) in 2007 dollars. Sensitivity analysis shows that PV is most sensitive to feedstock and enzyme costs.
Financing Renewable Energy Projects
NREL recently released another fact sheet in its series on financing renewable energy projects — this issue provides information on property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. The analysis project is being led by SEAC analyst Karlynn Cory.
Photovoltaics as a Measure in PACE Programs
NREL analyst Jason Coughlin also recently published the fact sheet "Photovoltaics (PV) as an Eligible Measure in Residential PACE Programs: Benefits and Challenges" (PDF 425 KB).
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is one of several new financial models broadening access to clean energy by addressing the barrier of initial capital cost. The majority of the PACE programs in the market today include photovoltaics (PV) as an eligible measure. PV appeals to homeowners as a way to reduce utility bills, self-generate sustainable power, increase energy independence and demonstrate a commitment to the environment. If substantial state incentives for PV exist, PV projects can be economic under PACE, especially when partnered with good net metering policies. At the same time, PV is expensive relative to other eligible measures with a return on investment horizon that might exceed program targets. This fact sheet reviews the benefits and potential challenges of including PV in PACE programs.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis Web site.