March 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 Optimization at NAVSTA Newport
In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage the development of renewable energy (RE) on potentially contaminated land and mine sites. As part of this effort, EPA is collaborating with NREL to evaluate RE options at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport in Newport, Rhode Island. NREL's Renewable Energy Optimization (REO) tool was utilized to identify RE technologies that present the best opportunity for life-cycle cost-effective implementation while also serving to reduce energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and increase the percentage of RE used at NAVSTA Newport. The technologies included in REO are daylighting, wind, solar ventilation preheating, solar water heating, photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal (heating and electric), and biomass (gasification and cogeneration). The optimal mix of RE technologies depends on several factors including RE resources; technology cost and performance; state, utility, and federal incentives; and economic parameters (discount and inflation rates). Each of these factors was considered in this analysis. Technologies not included in REO that were investigated separately per NAVSTA Newport request include biofuels from algae, tidal power, and ground source heat pumps.
Title: Renewable Energy Optimization Report for Naval Station Newport. A Study Prepared in Partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency for the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative: Siting Renewable Energy on Potentially Contaminated Land and Mine Sites
Authors: Robi Robichaud, Gail Mosey, and Dan Olis, NREL
Can U.S. PV Prices Go Lower?
The price of PV systems in the United States (i.e., the cost to the system owner) has dropped precipitously in recent years, led by substantial reductions in global PV module prices. However, system cost reductions are not necessarily realized or realized in a timely manner by many customers. Many reasons exist for the apparent disconnects between installation costs, component prices, and system prices; most notable is the impact of fair market value considerations on system prices. To guide policy and research and development strategy decisions, it is necessary to develop a granular perspective on the factors that underlie PV system prices and to eliminate subjective pricing parameters. This report's analysis of the overnight capital costs (cash purchase) paid for PV systems attempts to establish an objective methodology that most closely approximates the book value of PV system assets.
Title: Residential, Commercial, and Utility-Scale Photovoltaic (PV) System Prices in the United States: Current Drivers and Cost-Reduction Opportunities
Authors: Alan Goodrich, Ted James, and Michael Woodhouse, NREL
New Models Help Estimate Recoverable Resources from Geothermal Reservoirs
Geopressured geothermal reservoirs are characterized by high temperatures and high pressures with correspondingly large quantities of dissolved methane. Two methods utilizing reservoir simulation techniques have been used to estimate recoverability factors of geothermal brine and methane based on well log data from a specific reservoir in Texas. The first assumes a simplified reservoir that has three layers: upper shale, sandstone, and lower shale with the sandstone layer thickness equal to the net sandstone in the reservoir interval. The second method uses a detailed reservoir model that accounts for multiple sandstone and shale layering. This method includes 12 layers of sandstone or shale with the layer depths determined from a well log. These two methods are used to answer the question on the sensitivity of the results to the level of detail that is included in the reservoir model. It was found that incorporating multiple thin layers of lower permeability sandstone can noticeably impact the results of the reservoir simulation. The heterogeneous model resulted in greater flow rates of both geothermal brine and total methane. Both models demonstrate that the geopressured geothermal reservoir is capable of producing hot geothermal fluid at flow rates over a long duration that are sufficient for electricity production from binary power plants. The results indicate that simplified models of geopressured geothermal reservoirs that approximate actual reservoir details can be applied to give a reasonable, albeit conservative, estimate of the recoverable resource over broad areas using generalized datasets.
Title: The Influence of Reservoir Heterogeneity on Geothermal Fluid and Methane Recovery from a Geopressured Geothermal Reservoir (presentation)
Authors: Ariel Esposito and Chad Augustine, NREL
United States Can Compete with China in PV Manufacturing
Over the past five years, solar PV module shipments from China and Taiwan have grown from 6% to 54% global market share, while the United States has slipped from 9% to 6% market share. Chinese PV companies have gained an international pole position, in part, by achieving the industry's lowest silicon module manufacturing cost. There is also a clear strategic effort on the part of the Chinese government to drive an expansion into the high technology enterprises of the future, such as solar PV, by offering strong state support. Over the long term, however, several challenges facing the Chinese PV industry may affect its ability to sustain the dominant position. In this analysis we seek to quantify the decision points of two hypothetical solar PV manufacturers that are considering U.S. and non-U.S. production locations. We consider the full suite of details underlying regional differences in manufacturing, including shipping costs, policies of governance and trade, intellectual property protection, and subsidies. Going against conventional wisdom, our analysis shows that the United States is a competitive manufacturing location for solar PV modules, in select cases.
Title: Solar PV Manufacturing Cost Analysis: U.S. Competitiveness in a Global Industry (presentation)
Authors: Alan Goodrich, Ted James, and Michael Woodhouse, NREL
Models and Tools Enhancements and Releases
OpenEI Now Features Mobile, Web, and Desktop Apps
OpenEI recently launched its apps Web page, including mobile apps and desktop apps. There are currently over 100 apps in the database. If you don't see your app there and want to add it, click the "Contact Us" link. Alternately, power OpenEI users can add their own app on http://en.openei.org/wiki/Concept:Apps.
A Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing news release referenced the presentation "Solar PV Manufacturing Cost Analysis: U.S. Competitiveness in a Global Industry" by Alan Goodrich, Ted James, and Michael Woodhouse. Since the news release, Alan Goodrich has talked with ClimateWire, Ted James has spoke with Platts Inside Energy, and Sustainable Business Oregon called public affairs in regards to the presentation.
NREL provided the National Academy of Sciences with a System Advisor Model (SAM) overview graphic for publication in a future book, Harnessing Light II: Capitalizing on Optical Science Trends and Challenges for Future Research.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website.