September 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.
- NREL report analyzes renewable energy development outlook in the West
- New tool for visualization analysis
- NREL released Beta updates of two popular tools
- NREL analysis and analysts in the news
- Recent publications.
NREL Report Analyzes Renewable Energy Development Outlook in the West
In a new report, NREL assesses the outlook for utility-scale renewable energy development in the West once states have met their RPS requirements.
A new NREL report, Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West, by David J. Hurlbut, Joyce McLaren, and Rachel Gelman of NREL assesses the outlook for utility-scale renewable energy development in the West once states have met their renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements. In the West, the last state RPS culminates in 2025, so the analysis uses 2025 as a transition point on the timeline of renewable energy development. Most western states appear to be on track to meet their final requirements, relying primarily on renewable resources located relatively close to the customers being served. What happens next depends on several factors, including trends in the supply and price of natural gas, greenhouse gas and other environmental regulations, consumer preferences, technological breakthroughs, and future public policies and regulations. Changes in any one of these factors could make future renewable energy options more or less attractive.
A separate Executive Summary was published at the same time as the report.
California Science & Technology News, Science Daily, Research & Development, Phys. Org, Democratic Underground, Science Codex, Wyoming Energy News, Green Car Congress, Energy Vortex, Daily Kos, Colorado Cleantech, SNL, Sun-Enews, Global Geothermal News, Nanowerk, Renew Grid, JBK-Renewable-Energy, and Penn Energy published news articles about this report. David Hurlbut interviewed with Colorado Public Radio about the report.
Read NREL's news release, NREL Study Suggests Cost Gap for Western Renewables Could Narrow by 2025.
NREL's new Multivariate Visualization Tool displays data from the Renewable Electricity Futures Study and other sources.
New Tool for Visualization Analysis
NREL has developed a new framework to support visualization and exploration of analytical results that vary in space and time. Both frameworks can be customized to support new analysis.
The new Multivariate Visualization Tool (MVT) works with data from the Renewable Electricity Futures Study (RE Futures), the OpenPV project, and the Geothermal Prospector. The RE Futures scenario viewer is currently available online.
The MVT supports the exploration of analysis scenarios that simultaneously vary over space and time. In the example of RE Futures, a user can generate more than 200,000 maps by selecting different scenario parameters and renewable energy technologies at times between 2010 and 2050. The maps are based on RE Futures datasets.
NREL Released Beta Updates of Two Popular Tools
The PVWatts Calculator estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected PV energy systems throughout the world. PVWatts allows homeowners, small building owners, installers, and manufacturers to estimate the performance of potential PV installations. The tool features increased flexibility and an updated look and feel. The PVWatts beta combines the capabilities of the previous version with those of NREL's In My Backyard (IMBY) tool.
SAM is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry. The new version of the tool includes 26 updates, including an updated PV module library with 11,301 modules. The beta version of the update is available for Windows and Mac OS X and expires on September 30. NREL plans to release the official version by the end of September.
PV Magazine posted an article about the two tools.
NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News
The Denver Post, Greentech Media, EERE Network News, IEEE Spectrum, Denver Business Journal, Renewable Energy World, Solar Industry, InnovatioNews, Solar Reviews, Today's Energy Solutions, a Denver Post blog, Photon International, Colorado Energy News, and Energy Manager Today discussed 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 in recent articles. This report has been downloaded 2,398 times through August 13.
"All these land-use numbers are being thrown around, but there has been nothing concrete," said Sean Ong, the study's lead author. "Now, people will actually have numbers to cite when they conduct analyses and publish reports."
PV Magazine posted an article about how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will almost triple the number of screenings, from 24,000 to 66,000, of contaminated sites for renewable energy potential. The screenings are conducted under the RE-Powering America's Land initiative, which EPA developed 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 on selected sites; NREL has published 25 of these studies this year. Gail Mosey is project lead for this series of studies.
RenewableEnergyWorld.com reposted the NREL blog "These Solar REIT Pioneers Are Mining the Sun for 'Good Income'" by Jared Wiedmeyer.
Journal Article: The Energy-Water-Food Nexus Through the Lens of Algal Systems
Journal: Industrial Biotechnology
Authors: Morgan Bazilian and Douglas Arent, JISEA; Ryan Davis and Philip T. Pienkos, NREL
The policies for energy, water, and food have numerous interwoven concerns, including access to essential services and resources, environmental impacts, national security, and price volatility. These issues manifest in very different ways in each of the three "spheres." This article uses algal bioresources as a lens through which to consider aspects of this nexus.
Journal Article: Evaluating the Impact of Third-Party Price Reporting and Other Drivers on Residential Photovoltaic Price Estimates
Journal: Energy Policy
Authors: Carolyn Davidson and Daniel Steinberg, NREL
This study investigates residential PV system price drivers to improve the accuracy, consistency, and relevance of PV price-tracking efforts. An econometric approach evaluates system price drivers using California Solar Initiative data, controlling for system, installer, and geographic variables.
Journal Article: Natural Gas Scenarios in the U.S. Power Sector
Journal: Energy Economics
Authors: Jeffrey Logan, Anthony Lopez, Trieu Mai, and Carolyn Davidson, NREL; Morgan Bazilian and Douglas Arent, JISEA
NREL assesses questions affecting today's natural gas and electric power markets, including the impacts of forthcoming EPA rules on power plants, decarbonization options such as a clean energy standard, potential improvements in key generation technologies, expanded use of natural gas outside of the power generation sector, and higher costs for natural gas production.
Conference Paper: Comparison of Photovoltaic Models in the System Advisor Model: Preprint
Authors: Nate J. Blair and Aron P. Dobos, NREL; Paul Gilman, Contractor
This paper presents an overview the different PV model options available in SAM and presents a comparison of results for a 200-kW system using different model options.
NREL Report: SAM Technical Review Committee Final Report: Summary and Key Recommendations from the Onsite TRC Meeting Held April 22-23, 2013
Authors: Nate Blair, Aron Dobos, S. Janzou, P. Gilman, Janine Freeman, and Leah Kaffine, NREL
This report summarizes the major recommendations of a technical review committee's evaluation of SAM.
NREL Report: Fundamental Drivers of the Cost and Price of Operating Reserves
Authors: Marissa Hummon, Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, and David Palchak, NREL; Brendan Kirby, Consultant; Ookie Ma, DOE
This analysis used a commercial grid simulation tool to evaluate the cost and price of several operating reserve services, including spinning contingency reserves and upward regulation reserves. The analysis demonstrates that the price of operating reserves depends highly on many assumptions regarding the operational flexibility of the generation fleet.
NREL Report: Rotation Angle for the Optimum Tracking of One-Axis Trackers
Authors: William F. Marion and Aron P. Dobos, NREL
Analysts derive an equation for the rotation angle that permits optimum movement along with equations giving the relationships between the rotation angle and the surface tilt and azimuth angles. These equations can improve modeling of the solar radiation available to a collector with tracking constraints and help determine the appropriate motor revolutions for optimum tracking.
For the latest updates on information regarding energy analysis, visit the Energy Analysis website.