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February 2014

Energy Department, NREL Estimate Economic Impacts of Offshore Wind

A photo of an offshore wind farm.

NREL 17856

Offshore wind is a clean, renewable source of energy and can be an economic driver in the United States. To better understand the employment opportunities and other potential regional economic impacts from offshore wind development, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded research that focuses on four regions of the country: Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Southeast. The studies use multiple scenarios with various local job and domestic manufacturing content assumptions. Each regional study uses the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL's) new Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) model for offshore wind. NREL published findings in a series of fact sheets:

Here Comes the Sun

Installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity more than tripled in the past three years, while installed costs for residential and commercial systems have fallen by about 30%. Industry analysts forecast that PV capacity will double from current levels by the end of 2015.

Increased adoption of distributed generation, particularly distributed solar PV, will change utility-customer interactions, cost recovery, and revenue streams. Regulators face the challenge of defining and preparing for the potential rate and revenue impacts of expanded distributed PV. The regulatory context and rate structures governing utilities and owners of residential and commercial-scale distributed PV present both market opportunities and market barriers that will influence the path forward for proliferating distributed PV.

A number of regulatory models and rate design alternatives are available to address the challenges posed by the transition toward increased adoption of distributed PV. In a recent paper, Regulatory Considerations Associated with the Expanded Adoption of Distributed Solar, NREL teamed with the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) to frame these issues, explore the regulatory implications, and examine the options for addressing this growing challenge.

Join NREL and RAP for a webinar, "Here Comes the Sun: Regulatory Considerations Associated with the Expanded Adoption of Distributed Solar," on Thursday, February 20, 2014, from 1–2 pm MT (3–4 pm ET) to learn more.

Joyce McLaren (NREL) and Carl Linvill (RAP) will discuss:

  • Sources of costs and benefits from increased adoption of distributed PV
  • How regulatory models indicate different roles and value propositions for consumers, utilities, and non-utility electricity service providers
  • Rate design alternatives and their effect on the value proposition for PV adopters, non-adopters, and utilities
  • How to frame the discussion with utilities, non-utility participants, and customers as they formulate equitable regulatory and rate design solutions.

Register now.

Incorporating Solar in Green Power

A webinar, "Incorporating Solar in Green Power Offers from Coast to Coast," will discuss how utility green pricing programs and other voluntary green power offers have incorporated solar into their product mix. Leslie Brown will discuss how Silicon Valley Power in California has developed a product with 20% solar from California. Jay Carlis will share how Community Energy has been engaged with developing solar, buying and selling solar renewable energy certificates, and supplying solar to voluntary program. This webinar will occur on February 25, 2014, from 3–4 p.m. ET.

Register now.

NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News reported that Morgan Bazilian, deputy executive director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA), was named to the editorial board of an Elsevier journal, Energy Research and Social Science.

The Clean Energy Ministerial posted an NREL news release titled "Eskom, 21st Century Power Partnership Working Toward More Renewable Electricity in South Africa."

Blue & Green Tomorrow, Buildings, PennEnergy, Power Engineering, and Electric Light & Power all posted articles on the 21st Century Power Partnership report Flexible Coal Evolution from Baseload to Peaking Plant by Jaquelin Cochran and Debra Lew of NREL and Nikhil Kumar of Intertek.

"You can only turn a power plant down so much. A Prius comes to a stop at a red light and the engine shuts off. When the light turns green, the engine starts up again. Power plants aren't like that—if you turn it off, you have to keep it off for hours. Also, it's really expensive to turn a power plant on and off.

It would be great if in the middle of the day, when the sun is shining, we could turn power plants off. But the sun will set, and you wouldn't have the plants back on again in time."
—Paul Denholm, as quoted in Grist article "Ask Umbra: Why Must We "Store" Renewable Energy? Can't We Just Use It?"

Utility Dive posted an article titled "10 Predictions for the Electric Sector in 2014." Prediction 9, Utilities Will Grow Green Pricing Programs, links to DOE's Green Power Markets Web page and captures some of the trends included in Status and Trends in the U.S. Voluntary Green Power Market (2012 Data).

Presidential & Executive Agency Actions to Drive Clean Energy in America, a new report by the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE), mentioned NREL.

Vickie Healey reported on the joint IRENA and Clean Energy Solutions Center joint initiative, the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN) at the 4th International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly in Abu Dhabi. Healey also attended a Ministerial Roundtable on renewable initiatives for scaling up investment in renewables, an IRENA Workshop on Business Models for Renewable Energy Deployment in Cities, and other side events.

The Energy Collective posted an article titled "Four Ways the Attack on Wind and Solar is Wrong," which cites the work in life cycle harmonization, led by Garvin Heath, and links to the project's fact sheet.

Barry Friedman was quoted in Power Systems Design's article "NREL Reports Soft Costs Now Largest Piece of Solar Installation Total Cost." The article discussed two NREL reports: Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance-of-System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems, Using a Bottom-up Approach and Installer Survey — Second Edition and Financing, Overhead, and Profit: An In-depth Discussion of Costs Associated with Third-party Financing of Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems.

Alternative Energy posted an article about a new report by CSP Today that uses NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM) to investigate the levelized cost of energy of parabolic trough.

Subscriber-based SNL quoted Jeff Logan in an article titled "Wind Welcomes Jump in Natural Gas, but CEO Says Industry Less Reliant on Rising Prices."

Recent Publications

NREL Report: Time Domain Partitioning of Electricity Production Cost Simulations
Authors: Clayton Barrows, Marissa Hummon, Wesley Jones, and Elaine Hale, NREL

In this report, the time domain persistence of historical unit commitment decisions are calculated to inform time domain partitioning of production cost models. The results are implemented using PLEXOS production cost modeling software in a high performance computing environment to improve the computation time of simulations while maintaining solution integrity.

NREL Report: Assessing Development Impacts Associated with Low Emission Development Strategies: Lessons Learned from Pilot Efforts in Kenya and Montenegro
Authors: Sadie Cox and J. Katz, NREL; Laura Würtenberger, Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)

A development impact assessment tool was developed to inform an analytically robust and transparent prioritization of low emission development strategies (LEDS) actions based on their economic, social, and environmental impacts. This paper summarizes the adaptation and piloting of the tool in Kenya and Montenegro and highlights strengths of the tool and discusses key needs for improving it.

NREL Report: Feasibility Study of Economics and Performance of Solar Photovoltaics at the TechCity East Campus Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Site in Kingston, New York
Authors: James Salasovich, Jesse W. Geiger, Gail Mosey, and Victoria Healey, NREL

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in accordance with the RE-Powering America's Land initiative, selected the TechCity East Campus site in Kingston, New York, for a feasibility study of renewable energy production. This paper discusses an assessment of the site for a possible PV system installation and estimates the cost, performance, and site impacts of different PV options.

Fact Sheet: PVWatts® Calculator India
Author: Sarah Booth, NREL

This fact sheet provides a broad overview of the PVWatts® Calculator for India, which is an online tool that estimates electricity production and the monetary value of that production of grid-connected roof- or ground-mounted crystalline silicon PV systems based on a few simple inputs.

Presentation: The Treatment of Solar Generation in Electric Utility Resource Planning
Author: Karlynn Cory, NREL; John Sterling and Mike Taylor, SEPA; Joyce McLaren, NREL

This presentation aims to begin the exchange of information between utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders by capturing utility-provided information 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.

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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.