December 2012 Newsletter
Energy analysis at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aims to provide credible, objective data and insights that inform policy and investment decisions as energy efficient and renewable energy technologies advance from concept to commercial application. NREL analysis encompasses a broad range of scientific research and reporting activity 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.
This month's newsletter features an NREL natural gas report and the ReEDS model.
- Report Examines Impact of Natural Gas on U.S. Electric Power
- ReEDS Model Simulates Power Sector Futures for JISEA Report
- NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News
- Recent Publications
Report Examines Impact of Natural Gas on U.S. Electric Power
Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity
Authors: Jeffrey Logan, Garvin Heath, and Jordan Macknick, NREL; Elizabeth Paranhos and William Boyd, University of Colorado Law School; Ken Carlson, Colorado State University
A major new report from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA), designed to address four related questions about natural gas and the U.S. electricity sector, provides a new methodological approach to estimate natural-gas-related greenhouse gas emissions, tracks trends in regulatory and voluntary industry practices, and explores various electricity futures. The report's findings include:
- Based on analysis of more than 16,000 reported sources of air-pollutant emissions, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of shale gas were found to be very similar to conventional natural gas and less than half those of coal-fired electricity generation.
- At federal, state, and local levels, legal and regulatory frameworks governing shale gas development are changing in response to public concerns and industry changes, particularly in areas that have limited experience with oil and gas development.
- Many regions evaluated in this study are making greater use of innovative water management practices to limit real and perceived risks.
- In numerous modeled future electric power scenarios designed to evaluate both the implications of shale gas development and various policy and technology changes, the study found that natural gas use for power generation grows strongly in most scenarios.
Estimate of life cycle GHG emissions from 2009 Barnett Shale gas combusted to generate electricity in a modern natural gas combined-cycle (NGCC) turbine compared to previously published estimates for unconventional (mostly shale) gas, conventional natural gas, and coal after methodological harmonization.
The Wyoming Business Report featured this report in their recent article "Report: Shale Gas as Clean as Natural Gas."
ReEDS Model Simulates Power Sector Futures for JISEA Report
The Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model was used to simulate future electric power scenarios and provide insights regarding natural gas availability and price as well as various policy, regulatory, and technology changes on the natural gas and electric power markets for Natural Gas and the Transformation of the U.S. Energy Sector: Electricity. The figure below summarizes results from the ReEDS simulation, comparing the range of natural gas power generation for all scenarios investigated.
Range of electricity generated from natural gas plants in the scenario analysis.
ReEDS, developed by NREL with EERE support, is a capacity expansion model that determines the least-cost combination of generation options that fulfill a variety of user-defined constraints such as projected load, capacity reserve margins, emissions limitations, and operating lifetimes. The model has a relatively rich representation of geographic and temporal detail so that it more accurately captures the unique nature of many generation options, as well as overall transmission and grid requirements. ReEDS can model all types of power generators and fuels—coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable—although it was designed primarily to address considerations for integrating renewable electric technologies into the power grid.
For more information on ReEDS, see the ReEDS documentation report.
NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News
Automotive Fleet highlighted the Transparent Cost Database in their recent article "NREL and DOE Launch Online Alternative Fuel Tools for Fleet Managers."
GreenTechSolar and Renewable Energy World quoted NREL's Kristen Ardani regarding the report Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance of System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems Using a Data-Driven Analysis from PV Installer Survey Results. Ardani recently presented a webinar on the report for Vote Solar.
Renewable Energy World reposted NREL blogs "Does RPS Still Run the Renewable Energy Engines?" and Who Needs Third-Party Finance? Loan Programs Offer Low-Cost Direct Ownership Opportunities by Michael Mendelsohn.
TechNewsDaily quoted Douglas Arent in their recent article "Plentiful U.S. Oil Won't Kill Renewable Energy."
Australian Radio program Beyond Zero interviewed Michael Mendelsohn; he compared U.S. PV incentives to Germany's feed-in tariff (FIT).
DOE Report: Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance of System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems Using a Data-Driven Analysis from PV Installer Survey Results
Authors: Kristen Ardani, Robert Margolis, David Feldman, and Sean Ong, NREL; Galen Barbose and Ryan Wiser, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
This report presents results from the first DOE-sponsored, bottom-up data collection and analysis of non-hardware balance-of-system costs—often referred to as 'business process' or 'soft' costs—for residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) systems.
Conference Paper: Energy Storage to Reduce Renewable Energy Curtailment
Author: Paul Denholm, NREL
This paper from the IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting discusses how energy storage can be used to increase grid flexibility and reduce curtailment.
NREL Report: Simulating the Value of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a Production Cost Model
Authors: Paul Denholm and Marissa Hummon, NREL
This document describes the implementation of concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage (TES) in a commercial production cost model. It also describes the simulation of grid operations with CSP in a test system consisting of two balancing areas located primarily in Colorado.
Journal Article: An Angle on Solar and Wind Variability
Author: Victor Diakov, NREL
Research has shown that geographic diversity can help offset the variability of wind and solar energy resources on the electric grid. This article from Solar Today describes new analysis that illustrates how wind and photovoltaics (PV) can meet up to 80% of loads (70%, if limited by current transmission grid) in the western United States, with less than 10% of the generated power curtailed.
Conference Paper: Exploring Large-Scale Solar Deployment in DOE's SunShot Vision Study
Authors: Easan Drury, Greg Brinkman, Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, and Matthew Mowers, NREL
This paper, from the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, describes how DOE conducted the SunShot Vision Study to evaluate the potential impacts of achieving solar price and performance improvements; the underlying modeling analysis suggests that solar energy could satisfy roughly 14% of U.S. electricity demand by 2030 and 27% by 2050.
DOE Report: Photovoltaic (PV) Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections
Authors: David Feldman, Robert Margolis, and Alan Goodrich, NREL; Galen Barbose, Ryan Wiser, and Naïm Darghouth, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
A summary of the past, recent, and near-term future cost and PV installation pricing trends performed jointly by NREL and LBNL.
Fact Sheet: Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Concentrating Solar Power
Authors: Garvin Heath and Debra Sandor, NREL
This fact sheet reports results for utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) systems within the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Harmonization Project, a study that helps to clarify inconsistent and conflicting life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission estimates in the published literature and provide more precise estimates of life cycle GHG emissions for a wide range of generation technologies.
Fact Sheet: Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Solar Photovoltaics
Authors: Garvin Heath and Debra Sandor, NREL
This fact sheet reports results for PV systems within the LCA Harmonization Project.
NREL Report: Including Alternative Resources in State Renewable Portfolio Standards: Current Design and Implementation Experience
Authors: Jenny Heeter and Lori Bird, NREL
This paper examines state experience with implementing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and explores compliance experience and costs, as well as how states evaluate, measure, and verify energy efficiency and convert thermal energy. It aims to gain insights from the experience of states for possible federal clean energy policy and share experience and lessons for state RPS implementation.
Conference Paper: The Capacity Value of Solar Generation in the Western United States
Authors: Seyed Hossein Madaeni and Ramteen Sioshansi, The Ohio State University; Paul Denholm, NREL
This article from the IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting compares reliability- and capacity-factor-based methods of estimating the capacity value of solar power plants. The results show that solar plants can have long-term capacity values ranging between 46% and 95% of maximum capacity, depending on the solar technology, plant configuration, and location.
Presentation: Renewable Electricity Futures
Author: Trieu Mai, NREL
NREL presented findings of the Renewable Electricity Futures study at the 5th International Conference on Integration of Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources in Berlin, Germany.
Book Chapter: Chapter 11, Business: Finance in Project Development in the Solar Industry
Author: Michael Mendelsohn, NREL
This book, written by practicing experts in the solar renewable energy field, includes a chapter on renewable energy financing.
NREL Report: Bioenergy Assessment Toolkit
Authors: Anelia Milbrandt and Caroline Uriarte, NREL
This document describes a four-step process by which bioenergy opportunities can be assessed and provides resources to assist in this process.
Poster: Land Use and Water Efficiency in Current and Potential Future U.S. Corn and Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Systems
Authors: Ethan Warner, Helena Chum, Robin Newmark, and Yimin Zhang, NREL
This poster—presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco—displays how the potential for unintended consequences of biofuels—competition for land and water—necessitates that sustainable biofuel expansion considers the complexities of resource requirements within specific context (e.g., technology, feedstock, supply chain, and local resource availability).
This fact sheet describes a new analysis report that aims to help state officials and policymakers expand markets for solar technologies and ultimately reduce the cost of installed solar nationwide.
New NREL Newsletter Highlights Lab's Work in Renewable Energy Deployment
Subscribe to the Deployment and Market Transformation at NREL quarterly newsletter to learn about NREL's work with federal, state, and local government and private industry and organizations to deploy commercially available energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website.