May 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.
NREL Looks at State of the U.S. Utility-Scale Solar Market in Two New Reports
Title: Utility-Scale Concentrating Solar Power and Photovoltaics Projects: A Technology and Market Overview
Authors: Michael Mendelsohn, Travis Lowder, and Brendan Canavan, NREL
Title: Federal and State Structures to Support Financing Utility-Scale Solar Projects and the Business Models Designed to Utilize Them
Authors: Michael Mendelsohn and Claire Kreycik, NREL
Solar energy technologies are being deployed at unprecedented levels, driven in part by strong renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and federal incentives designed to stimulate investment in renewable energy technologies. A recent development is having the power sold directly to electric utilities. Such "utility-scale" systems offer the opportunity to deploy solar technologies far faster than the traditional "behind-the-meter" projects designed to offset retail load. Moreover, these systems have employed significant economies of scale during construction and operation, attracting financial capital, which in turn can reduce the delivered cost of power. This market overview report summarizes the current U.S. utility-scale solar state-of-the-market and development pipeline. The other report provides an overview of RPS policies, as well as the project financial structures they enable, based on industry literature, publicly available data, and questionnaires conducted by NREL.
NREL Report Measures Jobs and Economic Impacts of §1603
Title: Preliminary Analysis of the Jobs and Economic Impacts of Renewable Energy Projects Supported by the §1603 Treasury Grant Program
Authors: Daniel Steinberg and Gian Porro, NREL; Marshall Goldberg, MRG & Associates
This analysis responds to a request from U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to NREL to estimate the direct and indirect jobs and economic impacts of projects supported by the §1603 Treasury grant program. The analysis employs NREL's Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) models to estimate the gross jobs, earnings, and economic output supported by the construction and operation of the large wind (greater than 1 MW) and solar PV projects funded by the §1603 grant program.
Brochure Outlines Benefits of the Open PV Project
Title: The Open PV Project: Unlocking PV Installation Data (Brochure)
Author: Ted Quinby, NREL
This brochure summarizes the Open PV Project, a collaborative effort of government, industry, and the public to compile a comprehensive database of PV installations in the United States. The brochure outlines the purpose and history of the project as well as the main capabilities and benefits of the online Open PV tool. The brochure also introduces how features of the tool are used, and it describes the sources and characteristics of Open PV's data and data collection processes.
Solar PV Reaching New Demographics through Third-Party Ownership
Title: Transformation of California's Residential Photovoltaics Market Through Third-Party Ownership
Authors: Easan Drury, Mackay Miller, Donna Heimiller, and Tod Perry, NREL; Charles M. Macal, Diane J. Graziano, and Jonathan Ozik, Argonne National Laboratory
Third-party PV ownership, where commercial companies own and operate customer-sited PV systems and lease PV equipment or sell PV electricity to the building occupant, is growing. Third-party PV companies can reduce or eliminate up-front adoption costs, reduce technology risk and complexity by monitoring system performance, and repackage the PV value proposition by showing cost savings in the first month of ownership rather than payback times on the order of a decade. This report finds third-party business models in southern California residential PV markets have enticed a new demographic to adopt PV systems. Compared to traditional PV customer demographics, the new customers tend to be younger, less affluent, and less educated. By enticing new demographics to adopt PV, third-party PV products are likely increasing total PV demand rather than gaining market share entirely at the expense of existing customer-owned PV.
Two Papers Document Diverse Approaches to Effective Integration of Variable Renewable Energy
Title: Integrating Variable Renewable Energy in Electric Power Markets: Best Practices from International Experience
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Lori Bird, Jenny Heeter, and Douglas J. Arent, NREL
Title: Integrating Variable Renewable Energy in Electric Power Markets: Best Practices from International Experience, Summary for Policymakers
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Lori Bird, Jenny Heeter, and Douglas J. Arent, NREL
Many countries—reflecting very different geographies, markets, and power systems—are successfully managing high levels of variable renewable energy on the electric grid, including that from wind and solar energy. This study and summary for policymakers document the diverse approaches to effective integration of variable renewable energy among six countries—Australia (South Australia), Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and the United States (western region-Colorado and Texas)—and summarizes policy best practices that energy ministers and other stakeholders can pursue to ensure that electricity markets and power systems can effectively coevolve with increasing penetrations of variable renewable energy. Each country has crafted its own combination of policies, market designs, and system operations to achieve the system reliability and flexibility needed to successfully integrate renewables. Notwithstanding this diversity, the approaches taken by the countries studied all coalesce around five strategic areas: lead public engagement, particularly for new transmission; coordinate and integrate planning; develop rules for market evolution that enable system flexibility; expand access to diverse resources and geographic footprint of operations; and improve system operations. These reports were jointly produced by NREL, the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis, the Clean Energy Solutions Center, and the Clean Energy Ministerial.
Transmission Issues of Geothermal Technologies
Title: Geothermal Power and Interconnection: The Economics of Getting to Market
Author: David Hurlbut, NREL
This report provides a baseline description of the transmission issues affecting geothermal technologies. The report begins with a comprehensive overview of the grid, how it is planned, how it is used, and how it is paid for. The report then overlays onto this "big picture" three types of geothermal technologies: conventional hydrothermal systems; emerging technologies such as enhanced engineered geothermal systems (EGS) and geopressured geothermal; and geothermal co-production with existing oil and gas wells. Each category of geothermal technology has its own set of interconnection issues, and these are examined separately for each. The report draws conclusions about each technology's market affinities as defined by factors related to transmission and distribution infrastructure. It finishes with an assessment of selected markets with known geothermal potential, identifying those that offer the best prospects for near-term commercial development and for demonstration projects.
SNL Financial interviewed Robert Margolis for an article titled "NREL Analyst: 'Soft Costs' Stand in Way of Grid Parity for Solar."
SEAC intern Andy Reger and his team from Daniels College of Business at Denver University won the 2012 Aspen Institute's Business & Society International MBA Case Competition. The competition consisted of more than 1,000 students from 25 of the world's leading business schools. The Yale School of Management wrote the case, which challenged the students to integrate business profitability into a sustainability project.
Michael Mendelsohn wrote a blog titled "Will Solar Projects Need Tax Equity in the Future?" that was published on RenewableEnergyWorld.com.
Doug Arent spoke with CNBC.com to provide context for a story on how renewable energy sources and technologies are doing in terms of replacing and competing with fossil fuels.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website.