January/February 2012 Newsletter
The Energy Analysis at NREL newsletter highlights all the analysis activities in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies going on at the laboratory. Features include news and events, new website areas, updates to our models and tools, and our latest publications. You can subscribe to this newsletter using our simple online form, and you can also unsubscribe online.
Renewable Energy in the WECC Region
The purpose of this analysis is to provide the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with an overview of renewable energy generation markets, transmission planning efforts, and the ongoing role of the BLM renewable energy projects in the electricity markets of the 11 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) that comprise the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) region. This analysis focuses on the status of, and projections for, likely development of non-hydroelectric renewable electricity from solar (including photovoltaic [PV] and concentrating solar power [CSP]), wind, biomass, and geothermal resources in these states. Absent new policy drivers and without the extension of the DOE loan guarantee program and Treasury's 1603 program, state RPS requirements are likely to remain a primary driver for new renewable energy deployment in the western United States. Assuming no additional policy incentives are implemented, projected renewable energy demand for the WECC states by 2020 is 134,000 GWh. Installed capacity to meet that demand will need to be within the range of 28,000-46,000 MW.
Title: Western Region Renewable Energy Markets: Implications for the Bureau of Land Management
Authors: Scott Haase, Lynn Billman, and Rachel Gelman, NREL
Variance of Renewable Generation
Does large-scale penetration of renewable generation such as wind and solar power pose economic and operational burdens on the electricity system? A number of studies have pointed to the potential benefits of renewable generation as a hedge against the volatility and potential escalation of fossil fuel prices. Research also suggests that the lack of correlation of renewable energy costs with fossil fuel prices means that adding large amounts of wind or solar generation may also reduce the volatility of system-wide electricity costs. Such variance reduction of system costs may be of significant value to consumers due to risk aversion. The analysis in this report recognizes that the potential value of risk mitigation associated with wind generation and natural gas generation may depend on whether one considers the consumer's perspective or the investor's perspective and whether the market is regulated or deregulated. We analyze the risk and return trade-offs for wind and natural gas generation for deregulated markets based on hourly prices and load over a 10-year period using historical data in the PJM Interconnection from 1999 to 2008. Similar analysis is then simulated and evaluated for regulated markets under certain assumptions.
Title: Variance Analysis of Wind and Natural Gas Generation under Different Market Structures: Some Observations
Authors: Brian Bush, Thomas Jenkin, David Lipowicz, and Douglas J. Arent, NREL; Roger Cooke, Resources for the Future
Opportunities and Challenges in Residential Building-Integrated PV
For more than 30 years, there have been strong efforts to accelerate the deployment of solar-electric systems by developing photovoltaic (PV) products that are fully integrated with building materials. This report examines the status of building-integrated PV (BIPV), with a focus on the cost drivers of residential rooftop systems, and explores key opportunities and challenges in the marketplace.
Title: Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) in the Residential Sector: An Analysis of Installed Rooftop System Prices
Authors: Ted James, Alan Goodrich, Michael Woodhouse, Robert Margolis, and Sean Ong, NREL
Making Solar Energy Available for High Peak Demand
At high penetration of solar generation there are a number of challenges to economically integrating this variable and uncertain resource. These include the limited coincidence between the solar resource and normal demand patterns and limited flexibility of conventional generators to accommodate variable generation resources. Of the large number of technologies that can be used to enable greater penetration of variable generators, concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage (TES) enables this technology to shift energy production to periods of high demand or reduced solar output and provide substantial grid flexibility by rapidly changing output in response to the highly variable net load created by high penetration of solar (and wind) generation.
Title: "Enabling Greater Penetration of Solar Power via the Use of CSP with Thermal Energy Storage"
Authors: Paul Denholm and Mark Mehos, NREL
Hybrid Model for Financing Solar PV at Government Sites
Historically, state and local governmental agencies have employed one of two models to deploy solar PV projects: (1) self-ownership (financed through a variety of means) or (2) third-party ownership through a power purchase agreement (PPA). Recently a third option was pioneered; a way to combine many of the benefits of self-ownership and third-party PPAs through a bond-PPA hybrid. This fact sheet describes how the hybrid model works, assesses the model's relative advantages and challenges as compared to self-ownership and the third-party PPA model, provides a quick guide to project implementation, and assesses whether the model is replicable in other jurisdictions across the United States.
Title: "Financing Solar PV at Government Sites with PPAs and Public Debt" (fact sheet)
Author: Claire Kreycik, NREL
Renewable Electricity Supply Procurement Options
State renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies require utilities and load-serving entities (LSEs) to procure renewable energy generation. Utilities and LSEs commonly use competitive solicitations or bilateral contracting to procure renewable energy supply to meet RPS mandates. However, policymakers and regulators in several states are beginning to explore alternative renewable energy supply options, including both feed-in tariffs (FITs) and auctions. This report evaluates four procurement strategies (competitive solicitations, bilateral contracting, FITs, and auctions) against four main criteria: (1) pricing; (2) complexity and efficiency of the procurement process; (3) impacts on developers' access to markets; and (4) ability to complement utility decision-making processes. These criteria were chosen because they take into account the perspective of each group of stakeholders: ratepayers, regulators, utilities, investors, and developers.
Title: "Procurement Options for New Renewable Electricity Supply"
Authors: Claire E. Kreycik, NREL, Toby D. Couture, E3 Analytics, Karlynn S. Cory, NREL
In-Depth Study Looks at Solar Installation Workforce
Through primary research, including more than 1,425 completed interviews with U.S. solar installation employers, this report offers labor market data and analysis covering current U.S. employment in the sector, expected industry growth, and employer skill preferences and challenges for solar installation-related occupations. Key findings include:
- Companies prefer experienced workers and are having difficulty finding them. In many cases workers seeking employment do not possess the necessary skill sets or hands-on experience.
- Critical skills and desired experience include skills and experience in the electrical and construction trades, customer service, and specialized solar knowledge.
- To be most effective, training programs need to understand local market trends and continue developing partnerships with local solar employers.
Title: "Solar Installation Labor Market Analysis" (PDF 1.5 MB)
Authors: Barry Friedman, NREL, Philip Jordan, Green LMI Consulting, and John Carrese, San Francisco Bay Area Center of Excellence
SREC Markets — How They Function and Trends
This paper examines experience in solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) markets in the United States. It describes how SREC markets function—key policy design provisions, eligible technologies, state and regional eligibility rules, solar alternative compliance payments, measurement and verification methods, long-term contracting provisions, and rate caps. It also examines the trends of SREC markets—trading volumes, sourcing trends, trends in the size of solar PV systems driven by these markets, and trends in price and compliance. Throughout, the paper explores key issues and challenges facing SREC markets and attempts by policymakers to address some of these market barriers.
Title: "Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) Markets: Status and Trends"
Authors: Lori Bird, Jenny Heeter, and Claire Kreycik, NREL
Models and Tools Enhancements and Releases
ReEDS Model Analyzes Critical Energy Issues
The Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) is a deterministic optimization model of the deployment of electric power generation technologies and transmission infrastructure throughout the contiguous United States into the future. The model, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Strategic Energy Analysis Center, is designed to analyze the critical energy issues in the electric sector, especially with respect to potential energy policies, such as clean energy and renewable energy standards or carbon restrictions.
Title: "Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS)"
Authors: Walter Short, Patrick Sullivan, Trieu Mai, Matthew Mowers, Caroline Uriarte, Nate Blair, Donna Heimiller, and Andrew Martinez, NREL
SAM: New Version, New Site
The Solar Advisor Model (SAM) makes performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects based on installation and operating costs and system design parameters that you specify as inputs to the model. NREL recently released SAM 2011.12.2 for Windows and Mac OS with several new technologies and capabilities, including linear Fresnel CSP, P50/P90 weather variance analysis, and biopower modeling, as well as general improvements, such as PV case study sample files and integrated hourly data plotting. The new SAM version is available for immediate download at its new dedicated site, http://sam.nrel.gov, along with training materials and a schedule of presentations and webinars.
IMBY (V2) Now Available in Beta
The In My Backyard (IMBY) tool estimates the electricity you can produce with a solar PV array or wind turbine at your home or business. IMBY (V2) uses a PVWatts algorithm and SAM financial calculations via web services, which are available for web developers at http://developer.nrel.gov/doc/pvwatts. Both IMBY and IMBY (V2) Beta are available at http://maps.nrel.gov.
DOE Pulse Features OpenEI
The Department of Energy's online newsletter DOE Pulse highlighted the addition of nationwide utility rates to the Open Energy Information platform, or OpenEI.org. NREL's Debbie Brodt-Giles leads the OpenEI development team. See the Pulse feature story here.
Additional Information: Nationwide utility rates now on Open EI
NREL Analysts Explore Nuclear/Renewable Energy Synergies
Robin Newmark and Paul Denholm of NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis Center were among the government, industry, and academic thought leaders who participated in the 2-day Nuclear and Renewable Energy Synergies Workshop, sponsored by the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis. JISEA convened the workshop to identify potential synergies and strategic leveraging opportunities between nuclear energy and renewable energy, two energy sources with potential to overcome the challenges of greenhouse gas emissions and imported oil. Participants identified potential broad categories of synergies and brainstormed topic areas for additional analysis and research and development. Denholm, a featured presenter, led a discussion on the potential role of thermal energy storage. Proceedings and outcomes of the workshop are now available in a JISEA technical report.
Title: "Nuclear and Renewable Energy Synergies Workshop: Report of Proceedings"
Authors: Mark Ruth, Mark Antkowiak, and Scott Gossett, NREL
Analysts in the News
Paul Denholm, NREL, is quoted in a New York Times article on thermal storage, "Storehouses for Solar Energy Can Step In When the Sun Goes Down."
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website.