Energy Analysis Newsletter — June 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:
We will be taking a vacation from the seminar series in June. Please see below for information on our July seminar.
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)
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
Some of the documents in this section are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs.
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Wind and Solar on the Grid
NREL has released an initial study assessing the operational impacts and economics of increased contributions from wind and solar energy producers on the power grid. The "Western Wind and Solar Integration Study" examines the benefits and challenges of integrating enough wind and solar energy capacity into the grid to produce 35% of its electricity by 2017. The study finds that this target is technically feasible and does not necessitate extensive additional infrastructure, but does require key changes to current operational practice. The results, which offer a first look at the issue of adding a significant amount of variable renewable energy in the West, will help utilities across the region plan how to ramp up their production of renewable energy as they incorporate more wind and solar energy plants into the power grid.
The study can be downloaded from the NREL Wind Systems Integration Web site.
Evaluating an RPS and Carbon Cap Scenarios
SEAC analysts Lori Bird, Caroline Chapman, Jeff Logan, Jenny Sumner, and Walter Short recently published the report "Evaluating Renewable Portfolio Standards and Carbon Cap Scenarios in the U.S. Electric Sector" (PDF 1.3 MB).
This report examines the impact of various renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and cap-and-trade policy options on the U.S. electricity sector, focusing mainly on renewable energy generation. The analysis uses NREL's Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model that simulates the least-cost expansion of electricity generation capacity and transmission in the United States to examine the impact of an emissions cap — similar to that proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454) — as well as lower and higher cap scenarios. It also examines the effects of combining various RPS targets with the emissions caps. The generation mix, carbon emissions, and electricity price are examined for various policy combinations to simulate the effect of implementing policies simultaneously.
Green Power Market Forecast
SEAC analysts Lori Bird, Jenny Sumner, and Claire Kreycik, along with Ed Holt of Ed Holt and Associates, recently published the report "Voluntary Green Power Market Forecast through 2015" (PDF 695 KB).
Various factors influence the development of the voluntary "green" power market — the market in which consumers purchase or produce power from non-polluting, renewable energy sources. These factors include climate policies, renewable portfolio standards (RPS), renewable energy prices, consumers' interest in purchasing green power, and utilities' interest in promoting existing programs and in offering new green options. This report presents estimates of voluntary market demand for green power through 2015 that were made using historical data and three scenarios: low-growth, high-growth, and negative-policy impacts. Several key uncertainties affect the results of this forecast, including uncertainties related to growth assumptions, the impacts that policy may have on the market, the price and competitiveness of renewable generation, and the level of interest that utilities have in offering and promoting green power products.
Life Cycle Assessment of Jatropha Biodiesel
Michael Whitaker of Symbiotic Engineering and Garvin Heath of NREL recently published the report "Life Cycle Assessment Comparing the Use of Jatropha Biodiesel in the Indian Road and Rail Sectors" (PDF 2.4 MB).
This life cycle assessment of Jatropha biodiesel production and use evaluates the net greenhouse gas (GHG) emission (not considering land-use change), net energy value (NEV), and net petroleum consumption impacts of substituting Jatropha biodiesel for conventional petroleum diesel in India. Several blends of biodiesel with petroleum diesel are evaluated for the rail freight, rail passenger, road freight, and road-passenger transport sectors that currently rely heavily on petroleum diesel. While the road-passenger transport sector provides the greatest sustainability benefits per 1,000 gross tonne kilometers, the road freight sector eventually provides the greatest absolute benefits owing to substantially higher projected use by 2020. Nevertheless, introduction of biodiesel to the rail sector might present the fewest logistical and capital expenditure challenges in the near term. Sensitivity analyses confirmed that the sustainability benefits are maintained under multiple plausible cultivation, processing, and distribution scenarios. However, the sustainability of any individual Jatropha plantation will depend on site-specific conditions.
Global Analysis Activities
NREL's international group recently published the fact sheet "NREL Helps Apply Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technologies Worldwide" (PDF 433 KB), which includes information on analysis activities going on worldwide. NREL applies its technical expertise and capabilities to promote the use of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) technologies throughout the world. NREL's international work spans our full range of capabilities, which include three primary areas of expertise:
- Analysis - NREL provides technology-neutral information, global and regional assessments and decision tools, and expert advice.
- Research and Development - NREL conducts collaborative research and development (R&D) and shares methods and results with leading research institutions throughout the world.
- Deployment/Commercialization - NREL teams with private industry, other countries, and international institutions to invest in RE and EE technologies.
This fact sheet highlights NREL's international multilateral partnerships, bilateral partnerships, climate and environmental initiatives, and energy assessments and resources.
International Activities in Latin America
NREL's international group also published a fact sheet focused on "EERE-Supported International Activities in Latin America" (PDF 481 KB).
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is involved in a variety of international initiatives, partnerships, and events that promote greater understanding and use of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) worldwide. In support of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), EERE is working with several Latin American countries to advance EE and RE deployment for economic growth, energy security, poverty relief, and disaster recovery goals. This fact sheet highlights those activities.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis Web site.