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November 2013 Newsletter

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:


Green Power Markets on the Rise


A chart showing the consistent growth of renewable energy sales. In 2006, 12 million megawatt-hours were sold and 2012 marked nearly 50 million MWh. Utilities mark slowest growth with renewable energy certificates amounting for half of all renewable energy sold in 2012.

Estimated annual voluntary sales by market sector show a rise in green power markets
a Voluntary sales for 2011 are estimated as the mid-point of 2010 and 2012 sales.

With voluntary green power markets, consumers and institutions voluntarily purchase renewable energy to match their electricity needs. Voluntary action provides a revenue stream for renewable energy projects and raises consumer awareness of the benefits of renewable energy. These markets continued to exhibit growth and stimulate renewable energy development in 2012.

Status and Trends in the U.S. Voluntary Green Power Market (2012 Data) by Jenny Heeter and Terry Nicholas reviews the voluntary market and identifies market trends. The voluntary green power market totaled more than 48 million MWh in 2012, with about 1.9 million customers participating. The supply continues to be dominated by wind, though solar is increasing its share of utility green pricing programs. Prices for voluntary renewable energy certificates (RECs) increased to above $1/MWh.

Jenny Heeter presented a summary of the report titled "Current State of the Voluntary Renewable Energy Market" at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference 2013.


IREEED Distributes Renewable Energy Information for India

Screenshot of Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database website.

NREL, in collaboration with India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has created the Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database (IREEED) to disseminate information on renewable energy and energy efficiency policies established by the central and state governments in India. IREEED, developed under the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue and the Clean Energy Solution Center, is an online database that provides succinct policy information for consumers, businesses, project developers, and policymakers. IREEED includes:

  • Summaries of policies, regulations, and incentive programs for the central government and all states in India
  • Faceted search function
  • Links to policy and regulatory documentation
  • Links to resources on energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • Summary information on the most pertinent policy types, including generation-based incentives and renewable purchase obligations
  • User feedback form.

A fact sheet (PDF) provides more information.


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News


NREL analysts participated in Solar Power International in Chicago. Karlynn Cory was on the panel "Treatment of Solar in Electric Utility Resource Planning" along with members from SEPA. Mike Mendelsohn presented "The Future of Solar Finance?: Accessing Low-Cost Public Capital." Kristen Ardani held a workshop titled "NREL-RMI Workshop Summary: PV Soft Cost Roadmap Working Groups," which convened more than 60 PV industry stakeholders and gained feedback on reducing PV soft costs and market barriers.

IEEE Spectrum, PV Magazine, and Solar Daily published articles about the NREL report Non-Hardware ("Soft") Cost-Reduction Roadmap for Residential and Small Commercial Solar Photovoltaics, 2013-2020 by Kristen Ardani, Robert Margolis, Carolyn Davidson, and Sarah Truitt of NREL and Dan Seif, Jesse Morris, and Roy Torbert of Rocky Mountain Institute.

Climate Spectator and The Energy Collective posted articles on The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2. The report features contributions from NREL's Debra Lew, Gregory Brinkman, Eduardo Ibanez, Anthony Florita, Mike Heaney, Bri-Mathias Hodge, Marissa Hummon, and Greg Stark. Lori Bird presented to the SEIA Utility Scale Solar Meeting on October 21 and gave a poster presentation at Solar Power International on October 24 about the report.

Thomas Net posted an article about the NREL report Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States by Sean Ong, Clinton Campbell, Paul Denholm, Robert Margolis, and Garvin Heath.

"Our analysis finds that investments in technology research and development are critical not only to the widespread deployment of solar PV in most locations, without subsidy, but also may equalize factors that affect regional competitiveness, thus creating opportunities for U.S.-based manufacturers."

- Sustainable Business published an article quoting Alan Goodrich about his journal article "Assessing the Drivers of Regional Trends in Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing." Other NREL authors include Ted James and Michael Woodhouse. PV Insider also quoted Alan Goodrich in their article "Bright Spots Emerging for CIGS Sector."

Vermont Biz posted an article that discusses the NREL report Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the VAG Mine Site in Eden and Lowell, Vermont by Joe Simon and Gail Mosey.

The Energy Collective cited the Renewable Electricity Futures Study in an article.

Lori Bird presented on "Regulatory Considerations for Expanded PV Adoption" to the NARUC Energy Resources and Environment Advisory Committee on October 18.


Recent Publications


NREL Report: Low Emission Development Strategies: The Role of Networks and Knowledge Platforms
Authors: Ron Benioff, Morgan Bazilian, Sadie Cox, and Caroline Uriarte, NREL; Ana Kecman, Giuseppe De Simone, Kazuki Kitaoka, and Marina Ploutakhina, United Nations Industrial Development Organization; Mark Radka, United Nations Environment Programme

The authors present a review of strengths and weaknesses of existing low-emissions developments strategies (LEDS) networks that build on the findings of a study conducted by the Coordinated Low Emission Assistance Network (CLEAN). Based on the insights from theory and a mapping of the climate-related network space, opportunities for further refinement of LEDS networks are identified.


Technical Report: Market Evolution: Wholesale Electricity Market Design for 21st Century Power Systems
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Mackay Miller, Michael Milligan, Erik Ela, Douglas Arent, and Aaron Bloom, NREL; Matthew Futch, IBM; Juha Kiviluoma and Hannele Holtinnen, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland; Antje Orths, Energinet.dk; Emilio Gómez-Lázaro and Sergio Martín-Martínez, Universidad de Castilla La Mancha; Steven Kukoda and Glycon Garcia, International Copper Association; Kim Møller Mikkelsen, Global Green Growth Institute; Zhao Yongqiang and Kaare Sandholt, China National Renewable Energy Center

Produced for the 21st Century Power Partnership, this report reviews the suite of wholesale power market designs in use and under consideration to ensure adequacy, security, and flexibility in a landscape of significant variable renewable energy. It also examines considerations needed to ensure that wholesale market designs are inclusive of emerging technologies, such as demand response, distributed generation, and storage.


NREL Report: PVWatts Version 1 Technical Reference
Author: Aron P. Dobos, NREL

The PVWatts™ calculator is a web application developed by NREL that estimates the electricity production of a grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system. This technical reference details the application components, documents assumptions and hidden parameters, and explains the sequence of calculations that yield the final system performance estimation.


NREL Report: Financing, Overhead, and Profit: An In-Depth Discussion of Costs Associated With Third-Party Financing of Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems
Authors: David Feldman, Barry Friedman, and Robert Margolis, NREL

This report presents results from a bottom-up data collection and analysis of the upfront costs associated with developing, constructing, and arranging third-party-financed residential and commercial PV systems. It quantifies the indirect corporate costs required to install distributed PV systems as well as the transactional costs associated with arranging third-party financing.


NREL Report: Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance-of-System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems, Using a Bottom-Up Approach and Installer Survey - Second Edition
Authors: Barry Friedman, Kristen Ardani, David Feldman, Ryan Citron, and Robert Margolis, NREL; Jarett Zuboy, independent consultant

This report presents results from the second 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 U.S. residential and commercial PV systems.


NREL Report: Transmission Line Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Model User Reference Guide
Authors: Marshall Goldberg, MRG and Associates; David Keyser, NREL

This transmission line Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) user reference guide provides basic instruction on operating the model and understanding the results. This guide also provides information on the model's underlying methodology, as well as the parameters and references used to develop the cost data contained in the model.


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.


Conference Paper: Downscaling Solar Power Output to 4-Seconds for Use in Integration Studies [Conference Paper] [Presentation]
Author: Marissa Hummon, Andrew Weekley, Keith Searight, and Kara Clark, NREL

This paper shows that an optimized weighted linear sum of methods, dependent on the classification of temporal variability of the segment of one-minute solar power data, yields time series and ramp distributions similar to measured high-resolution solar irradiance data.


Conference Paper: Modelling Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage for Integration Studies [Conference Paper] [Presentation]
Authors: Marissa Hummon, Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, and Mark Mehos, NREL

Concentrating solar power with thermal energy storage (CSP-TES) can provide multiple benefits to the grid, including low marginal cost energy and the ability to levelize load, provide operating reserves, and provide firm capacity. The authors develop and implement a CSP-TES plant in a production cost model that accurately characterizes the three main components of the plant: solar field, storage tank, and power block.


Presentation: Accelerating Computation of the Unit Commitment Problem
Author: Marissa Hummon, Clayton Barrows, and Wesley Jones, NREL

This presentation for the INFORMS 2013 Annual Meeting shows how NREL exploits the persistence of unit commitment decisions to select partition boundaries for simulation horizon decomposition and parallel computation. Partitioned simulations are benchmarked against sequential solutions for optimality and computation time.


Presentation: Coordinating Permit Offices and the Development of Utility-Scale Geothermal Energy
Author: Aaron Levine, Katherine R. Young, and Kermit Witherbee, NREL

This presentation for the 2013 Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting highlights various forms of coordinating permit offices at the state and federal level in the western United States, discusses inefficiencies and mitigation techniques for permitting natural resource projects, analyzes whether various approaches are easily adaptable to utility-scale geothermal development, and addresses advantages and challenges for coordinating permit offices.


Fact Sheet: Renewable Energy Finance, Solar Securitization: A Status Report
Author: Michael Mendelsohn, NREL

This fact sheet was designed to introduce solar securitization and the activities of NREL and the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group to the investment community.


Fact Sheet: Biogas Potential in the United States
Author: Anelia Milbrandt, NREL

Biogas has received increased attention as an alternative energy source in the United States. This fact sheet provides information about the biogas (methane) potential from various sources in the country (by county and state) and estimates the power generation and transportation fuels production (renewable natural gas) potential from these biogas sources.


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