Skip to main content

December 2013

NREL Analysis: Making an Impact

A graphic showing the cover design for the Realizing a Clean Energy Future brochure.

In Hawaiian mythology, Maui set out to lasso the sun in order to capture its energy. He succeeded. That may have been the most dramatic leap forward in clean energy systems that the world has known. Until now. Today, profound energy system transformation is underway. A combination of forces is taking us from a carbon-centric, inefficient energy system to one that draws from diverse energy sources — including the sun. A new brochure, Realizing a Clean Energy Future: Highlights of NREL Analysis, showcases how NREL analysis is helping guide energy systems policy and investment decisions through this transformation.

Renewable Energy Data Book Details Growing Renewables Industry in 2012

The cover of the 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book.

Renewable electricity represented 14% of total installed capacity and more than 12% of total electric generation in 2012, according to the 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book, published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The Data Book compiles 2012 U.S. energy statistics, worldwide renewable energy development, clean energy investments, and data on specific technologies.

"The 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book is filled with information-packed charts and graphics, which allows users, from analysts to policymakers, to quickly understand and summarize trends in renewable energy—both on a U.S. and global scale," said NREL Energy Analyst Rachel Gelman, who led the Data Book project.

The 2011 Renewable Energy Data Book was the third-most downloaded file on with 7,488 downloads.

Read the NREL press release. The Energize Weekly newsletter and Smart Energy Universe highlighted the data book.

PVWatts Now Calculates Cost and Performance of Solar PV Systems in India

Screenshot of PVWatts Calculator website.

PVWatts™ Calculator, an NREL-developed model, allows homeowners, small building owners, installers, and manufacturers to easily develop estimates of the cost and performance of PV installations. Now, a new PVWatts India application extends the benefits of the popular PVWatts tool to India by utilizing the same performance model and a newly developed satellite-derived solar resource dataset for the entire country of India. This dataset allows the generation of reliable PV production estimates at any location in India. In addition, PVWatts India provides India-specific default values and displays economic values in Indian rupees. PVWatts India was funded by EERE's International Team under the U.S-India Energy Dialogue.

NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News

"Our results, from a technical nature, show that you could meet demand every hour of the year, with up to 80% of it coming from renewable resources. What we found was that there were many pathways, and there wasn't a red flag that said it was impossible, at least at the level that we looked at it."
- Doug Arent

Commenting on NREL's Renewable Electricity Futures Study in a December 2 report on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Read or listen to the full story, or learn more on EcoBusiness published an article about the interview.

"Natural Gas Scenarios in the U.S. Power Sector" is number 18 on the list of most downloads on Energy Economics. This paper is authored by Jeffrey Logan, Anthony Lopez, Trieu Mai, Carolyn Davidson, Morgan Bazilian, and Douglas Arent.

Greentech Media and The Energy Collective quoted Doug Arent and Dan Arvizu in the articles "The Odd Couple: Natural Gas and Renewables."

The Los Angeles Times quoted Trieu Mai in their article "Power Struggle: Green Energy Versus a Grid That's Not Ready."

An Associated Press reporter spoke to Jenny Heeter about green power. Business Week posted the article.

Lori Bird provided a presentation to a Montana legislative committee—the Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee—on November 8 discussing how states have assessed the benefits of RPS policies. Information is available on the ETIC website.

PV Insider interviewed Garvin Heath about his papers on the harmonization of life cycle assessments of greenhouse gases.

E&E Publishing quoted Trieu Mai in the recent article "Electricity: To Bridge Gaps in Wind and Solar Generation, Aging Grid Learns Flexibility."

PV Magazine and ThomasNet News quoted Paul Schwabe about SAPC's release of standardized contracts. quoted Paul Schwabe and Michael Mendelsohn.

Paul Schwabe co-hosted a SEIA-sponsored webinar on November 19 on the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) standard contract effort for residential leases and commercial PPAs.

Renewable Energy World and TechInvestor News discussed the NREL report Non-Hardware ('Soft') Cost Reduction Roadmap for Residential and Commercial Solar by Kristen Ardani, Dan Seif, Robert Margolis, Jesse Morris, Carolyn Davidson, Sarah Truitt, and Roy Torbert.

"It is a chicken-and-egg problem. They may see solar as too expensive, but some of the recent cost reductions are the result of deployment. If planners wait for prices to drop, prices won't drop because deployment won't grow."
- Karlynn Cory

Quoted by Greentech Media in their article "What Utility Planners Need to Know About Solar."

David Keyser, Aaron Smith, and Suzanne Tegen presented at a DOE webinar about "Jobs and Economic Development Impacts of Offshore Wind" on November 20.

NERC and CAISO recently released a joint report on maintaining bulk-power reliability under high variable renewable energy penetrations. It includes NREL citations and discussion of the energy imbalance market.

Recent Publications

Journal Article: Decision-Making for High Renewable Electricity Futures in the United States
Journal: Energy Strategy Reviews
Authors: Morgan Bazilian, Trieu Mai, Doug Arent, Mackay Miller, and Jeffrey Logan, NREL; Sam Baldwin, DOE

This article highlights aspects of policy, regulation, finance, markets, and operations that can help enable high penetration renewable energy electricity generation futures. It uses analytical results from the Renewable Electricity Futures Study as a basis for discussion.

Journal Article: Impact of Photovoltaic Orientation on its Relative Economic Value in Wholesale Energy Markets
Journal: Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Authors: Marissa Hummon, Paul Denholm, and Robert Margolis, NREL

With the use of historical solar irradiance and wholesale market prices for several locations in the United States, NREL evaluates the benefits of a variety of orientations for fixed and tracking PV arrays.

NREL Report: Regulatory Considerations Associated with the Expanded Adoption of Distributed Solar
Authors: Lori Bird, Joyce McLaren, and Jenny Heeter, NREL; Carl Linvill, John Shenot, Rich Sedano, and Janine Migden-Ostrander, Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP)

This report examines regulatory tools and rate designs for addressing emerging issues with the expanded adoption of distributed PV and evaluates the potential effectiveness and viability of these options going forward.

NREL Report: The Impact of Wind and Solar on the Value of Energy Storage
Author: Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, Marissa Hummon, and David Palchak, NREL; Brendan Kirby, Consultant; Ookie Ma, U.S. Department of Energy; Mark O'Malley, University College Dublin

This analysis evaluates how the value of energy storage changes when adding variable generation renewable energy resources to the grid.

NREL Report: Master Limited Partnerships and Real Estate Investment Trusts: Opportunities and Potential Complications For Renewable Energy
Author: David Feldman and Edward Settle, NREL

This report summarizes the challenges and potential of Master Limited Partnerships and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) as investment vehicles under consideration as potential means to lower renewable energy assets' high costs of capital—a critical factor in DOE's goal for renewable energy to achieve grid-parity with traditional sources of electric generation.

NREL Report: Estimated Economic Impacts of Utility Scale Wind Power in Iowa
Authors: Sandra Halvatzis and David Keyser, NREL

This analysis examines the economic impacts associated with the first 1,000 MW of wind energy deployment in Iowa.

NREL Report: Treatment of Solar Generation in Electric Utility Resource Planning
Authors: Joyce McLaren and Karlynn Cory, NREL; John Sterling and Mike Taylor, Solar Electric Power Association

Using interviews and a questionnaire, analysts gathered information from utilities about: (1) how various utilities approach long-range resource planning; (2) methods and tools utilities use to conduct resource planning, and (3) how solar technologies are considered in the resource planning process.

Technical Reports: RE-Powering America's Land Series

EPA developed the RE-Powering America's Land initiative to encourage renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated land and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community's vision for the site. With funding from EPA, NREL completed renewable energy feasibility studies for the selected sites. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.

For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website. You can also subscribe to the Energy Analysis at NREL newsletter using our simple online form.

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.