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October 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:


NREL Calculates Emissions and Costs of Power Plant Cycling Necessary for Increased Wind and Solar in the West


A chart showing the emission limited impacts of cycling compared to the emission reductions due to renewables.

WWSIS-2 quantifies the potential impacts of increasing wind and solar power generation on the operators of fossil-fueled power plants in the West.

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2 (WWSIS-2), evaluates the net effect of adding high penetrations of renewables on the grid, given that these can induce cycling of fossil-fueled generators. Cycling leads to wear-and-tear costs and changes in emissions.

"The increase in plant emissions from cycling to accommodate wind and solar generation are more than offset by the overall reduction in CO2, NOX, and SO2. Our analysis using real-world data shows that in high-penetration scenarios net carbon emissions were reduced by approximately one-third," said Debra Lew, Ph.D, lead author of the study. WWSIS-2 also features contributions from NREL's Greg Brinkman, Eduardo Ibanez, Marissa Hummon, Bri-Mathias Hodge, Anthony Florita, and Greg Stark.

NREL also published a related fact sheet, Western Wind and Solar Integration Study: The Effects of Wind and Solar Power-Induced Cycling on Wear-and-Tear Costs and Emissions by Debra Lew and Lori Bird.

The Denver Post, The Washington Post, Clean Technica, and an AWEA blog posted articles about this report.

Read the NREL news release for more information.



ReEDS Used to Find Optimal Sites in NREL Study


A map showing the concentrations of renewable potential in the western states.

This map shows the siting of photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, and wind plants for the high wind scenario in WWSIS-2.

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2 (WWSIS-2) used the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) to choose optimal locations for siting wind and solar. ReEDS, developed by NREL with EERE support, is a capacity expansion model for the deployment of electric power generation technologies and transmission infrastructure throughout the contiguous United States. It determines the least-cost combination of generation options that fulfill a variety of user-defined constraints, such as projected load, capacity reserve margins, emissions limitations, and operating lifetimes. ReEDS can model all types of power generators and fuels—coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables—although it was designed primarily to address considerations for integrating renewable electric technologies into the power grid.



NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News


Colorado Public Radio interviewed David Hurlbut about recent NREL report Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West. The Star Tribune, ENR Mountain States, and Energy Daily mentioned the report in recent articles.

GreenTechMedia used and referenced OpenEI's Transparent Cost Database in a recent article titled "Solar or Offshore Wind: Which Is Cheaper?"

PVTech and CIOL quoted Kristen Ardani about the NREL report Non-Hardware ("Soft") Cost-Reduction Roadmap for Residential and Small Commercial Solar Photovoltaics, 2013-2020.

ClimateWire quoted Lori Bird in its article "Solar, Utility Companies Clash Over Changes to Net Metering." SNL subscribers can access "Panelists: High Penetration of Renewables Demands More Balancing, Energy Storage," which also quoted Lori Bird.

The Wall Street Journal's article "Six Myths About Renewable Energy" discussed the Renewable Electricity Futures study.

"For solar power, there's a 'chicken and egg' problem: consistent demand is needed to give manufacturers access to the capital required to achieve large-scale production, but large-scale production will be necessary for solar power to compete as an energy source without subsidies."
- Al Goodrich

Quoted in Machinery Market about his recently published journal article, "Assessing the Drivers of Regional Trends in Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing." Read the NREL news release here.

Solar Power World posted an article that cites the use of NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM) for forecast modeling.

Doug Arent presented at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF) West conference, about which SNL posted a subscribers-only article article. The article also links to Arent's presentation and a related NREL report.

Environmental Research Web covered an Environmental Research Letters journal article by Yolanda Lin, Laura Vimmerstedt, and Brian Bush that uses the Biomass Scenario Model (BSM).

Solar Novus Today discusses HOMER (Hybrid Optimization Model for Electric Renewables), a tool developed at NREL and spun off to the private sector, in their recent article titled "Software Modeling in PV Project Development."


Recent Publications


Journal Article: Assessing the Drivers of Regional Trends in Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing
Journal: Energy and Environmental Science
Authors: Alan C. Goodrich, Ted L. James, and Michael Woodhouse, NREL; Douglas M. Powell and Tonio Buonassisi, MIT

This article finds that production scale, not lower labor costs, drives China's current advantage in manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems; the study's findings also suggest that the current advantages of China-based manufacturers could be reproduced in the United States.


Journal Article: Including Alternative Resources in State Renewable Portfolio Standards: Current Design and Implementation Experience
Journal: Energy Policy
Authors: Jenny Heeter and Lori Bird, NREL

This article examines state experience with implementing renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that include energy efficiency, thermal resources, and non-renewable energy and explores compliance experience, costs, and how states evaluate, measure, and verify energy efficiency and convert thermal energy. It aims to gain insights from the experience of states for possible federal clean energy policy as well as to share experience and lessons for state RPS implementation.


Journal Article: Modeling Biofuel Expansion Effects on Land Use Change Dynamics
Journal: Environmental Research Letters
Authors: Ethan Warner, Daniel Inman, Benjamin Kunstman, Brian Bush, Laura Vimmerstedt, Jordan Macknick, and Yimin Zhang, NREL; Steve Peterson, Peterson Group, Lexidyne LLC, and Dartmouth College

NREL's system dynamics tool is intended to complement existing land use change (LUC) modeling approaches and improve the understanding of global LUC drivers and dynamics by allowing examination of global LUC under diverse scenarios and varying model assumptions. NREL reports on a small subset of such analyses. This model provides insights into the drivers and dynamic interactions of LUC (e.g., dietary choices and biofuel policy) and is not intended to assert improvement in numerical results relative to other works.


NREL Report: Integrating Variable Renewable Energy: Challenges and Solutions
Authors: Lori Bird, Michael Milligan, and Debra Lew, NREL

This paper explores renewable energy integration challenges and mitigation strategies that have been implemented in the United States and internationally, including forecasting, demand response, flexible generation, larger balancing areas or balancing area cooperation, and operational practices such as fast scheduling and dispatch.


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: Wind and Solar Curtailment
Authors: Debra Lew, Lori Bird, Michael Milligan, Bethany Speer, and Xi Wang, NREL; Enrico Maria Carlini, Terna Rete Italia; Ana Estanqueiro, LNEG; Damian Flynn, University College Dublin; Emilio Gomez-Lazaro, University of Castilla-La Mancha; Nickie Menemenlis, Hydro Quebec; Antje Orths, Energinet.dk; Ivan Pineda, European Wind Energy Association; J. Charles Smith, UVIG; Lennart Soder, KTH; Poul Sorensen and Argyrios Altiparmakis, Technical University of Denmark; Yasuda Yoh, Kansai University.

This paper examines experiences with curtailment on bulk power systems internationally. It discusses how much curtailment is occurring, how it is occurring, why it is occurring, and what is being done to reduce curtailment.


Training Material: BITES Workshop Instructor and Student Guide
Authors: Austin Brown, NREL

NREL published a guide for instructors and students who use the Buildings, Industrial, Transportation, and Electricity Scenarios (BITES) tool to explore the potential future of the U.S. energy system.


Fact Sheet: Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database
Authors: Sarah Booth, NREL

The Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy Database (IREEED), developed in collaboration between DOE and India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, is a repository of all central and state government policies, incentives, and programs related to renewable energy and energy efficiency.


Fact Sheet: Solar Energy and Capacity Value
Author: Paul Denholm, NREL

This fact sheet describes how solar power provides capacity value to utilities and power system operators.


Fact Sheet: Variable Renewable Generation Can Provide Balancing Control to the Electric Power System
Authors: Erik Ela and Kara Clark, NREL

This fact sheet discusses the grid-friendly support and benefits renewables can provide to the electric power system.


Presentation: Selected Highlights of LCA Activities at NREL
Authors: Alberta Carpenter, Garvin Heath, Daniel Inman, Margaret Mann, Ethan Warner, and Yimin Zhang, NREL

This presentation to DOE highlights results and challenges of recent life cycle assessments (LCAs) at NREL and illustrates how traditional LCA methods have been extended to help answer new questions.


Presentation: Photovoltaic System Pricing Trends: Historical, Recent, and Near-Term Projections, 2013 Edition
Author: David Feldman, NREL

This briefing provides a high-level overview of historical, recent, and projected near-term PV system pricing trends in the United States, drawing on several ongoing research activities from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and NREL.


Presentation: The Present, Mid-Term, and Long-Term Supply Curves for Tellurium; and Updates in the Results from NREL's CdTe PV Module Manufacturing Cost Model
Author: Michael Woodhouse, NREL

This presentation examines the current, mid-term, and long-term prospects of Tellurium (Te) for use in PV.


For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website.