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May/June 2014


SunShot Grand Challenge Summit Showcases NREL Analysis and Tools


A photo of people on a stage with a SunShot logo on a back drop of circles and burst of sunlight over a layer of abstracted technology imagery.

Building on the success of the first Grand Challenge Summit, this 2014 conference brought together more than 800 members of the solar energy community to celebrate the achievements of the industry thus far, including 60% progress toward the 2020 SunShot affordability goal. Summit attendees also helped identify strategies to overcome the grand challenges ahead.

NREL contributed to several informational displays and sessions, including demonstrations of NREL tools by Nate Blair and Aron Dobos, a session on innovative financing led by Mike Mendelsohn, and a session on life cycle cost analysis led by Garvin Heath.


White House Enlists JISEA to Help Bolster Co-Investment in Renewable Energy and Natural Gas


The cover of the JISEA 2014 Annual Report. It is titled Unique Perspective.

The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) is hosting a series of workshops focused on the unique opportunities for greater synergistic use of natural gas and renewable energy.

The workshops—part of a larger White House initiative supporting solar deployment and jobs—will be held in four locations: New York City, focusing on the investment community and scheduled for July 1; Washington, DC, focusing on national policy; and the states of Texas and California, where both natural gas and renewables play a significant role in the economy, and could be used more synergistically. To learn more about the JISEA workshops, contact the JISEA Coordinator.


Conference Explores Cloud Computing and Its Role in Streamlining Government


Chris Webber and Debbie Brodt-Giles attended the Cloud Computing East Conference May 15-16 in Washington, D.C., where Brodt-Giles gave a keynote address titled "Cloud Computing Applications and Platforms - Using the cloud to facilitate access, use, and contribution of worldwide energy data and information."


NREL Analysis and Analysts in the News


JISEA's Doug Arent contributed to a major new report on climate change impacts and adaptation issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability was finalized in March 2014 and details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. The Weather Channel interviewed Arent about the findings; and the report has been mentioned by National Geographic and Science Magazine, among others.

The Energy Collective referenced several NREL and JISEA reports in its article titled "Can Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy Learn to Get Along?"

"Voluntary purchases of renewables by corporations, along with policy drivers such as state renewable energy standards and federal tax credits, are driving the development of renewables... Reductions in the cost of renewables are also making these investments more economic."

— Lori Bird
quoted in the Christian Science Monitor's article titled "Google's 'green' energy plan: Build, learn, expand."

Eric Lantz is quoted in The Energy Collective's article "Experts: Cost Gap Between Renewables and Natural Gas 'Is Closing'" for his analysis of geothermal and hydroelectric resources.

"This series of large plants that are being built really mark the transition [of solar] technology [from] being something experimental to real energy on the grid. Solar power currently accounts for 1 percent of U.S. energy production, but it is the fastest-growing sector of the energy landscape. The systems are getting smarter [and] one of the next frontiers in research and development is integrating very large quantities of solar into the system."

— Robert Margolis
quoted in Scientific American's article "World's Largest Solar Array Set to Crank Out 290 Megawatts of Sunshine Power."

Recent Publications


NREL Report: A Survey of State-Level Cost and Benefit Estimates of Renewable Portfolio Standards
Authors: Jenny Heeter, Lori Bird, Francisco Flores-Espino, Ksenia Kuskova-Burns, NREL; Galen Barbose, Samantha Weaver, Ryan Wiser, LBNL

This report provides an overview of methods used to estimate RPS compliance costs and benefits and finds that state assessments of RPS benefits have most commonly attempted to quantitatively assess avoided emissions and human health benefits, economic development impacts, and wholesale electricity price savings. The summary of RPS benefits is more limited, as relatively few states have undertaken detailed benefits estimates.

Bird and Barbose will present key findings of the report in a webinar on June 10 at 10 a.m. Denver time. Reserve your webinar seat now at: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/475292614.


NREL Report: Pre-Feasibility Analysis of Pellet Manufacturing on the Former Loring Air Force
Base Site

Authors: Randy Hunsberger and Gail Mosey, NREL

This report finds that a wood pellet production plant constructed on the Loring site in Limestone, Maine would have a high chance of economic success while providing jobs and money to the local economy.


NREL Report: Flexibility in 21st Century Power Systems
Authors: Jaquelin Cochran, Mackay Miller, Owen Zinaman, Michael Milligan, Doug Arent, and Bryan Palmintier, NREL; Mark O'Malley, University College Dublin; Simon Mueller, International Energy Agency; Eamonn Lannoye and Aidan Tuohy, EPRI; Ben Kujala, Northwest Power and Conservation Council; Morten Sommer, Energinet.dk; Hannele Holttinen and Juha Kiviluoma, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland; S.K. Soonee, Power System Operation Corporation

This paper, written for the 21st Century Power Partnership, summarizes the analytic frameworks that have emerged to measure flexibility, a critical characteristic of 21st century power systems, and distills key principles of flexibility for policymakers.


NREL Report: Modeling Climate-Water Impacts on Electricity Sector Capacity Expansion
Authors: Stuart Cohen and Jordan Macknick, NREL; Kristen Averyt and James Meldrum, University of Colorado - Boulder

This report describes a link between climate, water, and electricity systems using the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) electricity system capacity expansion model. This analysis represents a stepping stone to more rigorous integration of climate impacts on thermal cooling water availability in the ReEDS model.


NREL Report: The Evolving Role of the Power Sector Regulator: A Clean Energy Regulators
Initiative Report

Authors: Owen Zinaman and Mackay Miller, NREL; Morgan Bazilian, JISEA

This paper briefly characterizes the evolving role of the power sector regulator, given technological advances and cost reductions in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand management, increasing air pollution and climate change concerns, and persistent pressure for ensuring sustainable economic development and increased access to energy services by the poor. Power sector regulation is described through seven existing objectives, and nine emerging objectives, highlighting key challenges and outlining interdependencies. It is the first in a series of papers for the Clean Energy Regulatory Initiative (CERI).


NREL Report: Biomass Scenario Model Scenario Library: Definitions, Construction, and Description
Authors: Daniel Inman, Laura Vimmerstedt, and Brian Bush, NREL; Steve Peterson, Lexidyne, LLC

Understanding the development of the U.S. biofuels industry is important to policymakers and industry. The Biomass Scenario Model (BSM), a system dynamics model of the biomass-to-biofuels system, can be used to explore policy effects on biofuels development. This report describes the scenarios that comprise the BSM scenario library as well as their policy settings and general insights gained through use of the scenarios in analytic studies.


NREL Report: Temporal and Spatial Comparison of Gridded TMY, TDY, and TGY Data Sets
Authors: Aron Habte, Anthony Lopez, Manajit Sengupta, and S. Wilcox, NREL

This report offers a comparison of typical meteorological year (TMY), typical direct (normal irradiance) year (TDY), and typical global (horizontal irradiance) year (TGY) data sets to better understand the impact of ancillary weather variables upon them. These analyses identified geographical areas of high and low temporal and spatial variability, providing insight into the representativeness of a particular TMY data set for use in renewable energy as well as other applications.


Presentation: Variability of Power from Large-scale Solar Photovoltaic Scenarios in the State of Gujarat
Authors: Brian Parsons, Evergreen Renewable Consulting; Marissa Hummon, Jaquelin Cochran, and Blaise Stoltenberg, NREL; P. Batra, Central Electricity Authority; B. Mehta and D. Patel, Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Ltd, India

In this presentation, the authors discuss the highlights of their paper, for which the objective was to characterize the intra-hour variability of existing and planned photovoltaic solar power generation in the state of Gujarat (a total of 1.9 gigawatts direct current (GWDC)), and of five possible expansion scenarios of solar generation that reflect a range of geographic diversity (each scenario totals 500–1,000 MW of additional solar capacity).


Presentation: Eastern Renewable Generation Integration Study Solar Dataset
Author: Marissa Hummon, NREL

This presentation discusses the Eastern Renewable Generation Integration Study (ERGIS) Solar Dataset and details the methodology for development of data used and how they are synthesized. The objectives of the ERGIS are to 1) evaluate the potential for increased inter-regional cooperation, geographic diversity, and sub-hourly scheduling to deliver operational flexibility; 2) identify the need for mitigation strategies at high levels of penetration; 3) develop and test reserve strategies to accommodate ramping requirements; 4) investigate the impact of key assumptions on analytical results; and 5) provide more detailed analysis based on results.


Presentation: DR Resources for Energy and Ancillary Services in the West
Authors: Marissa Hummon, NREL; Sila Kiliccote, LBNL

This presentation examines the potential economic value demand response (DR) may have in the increased penetration of variable renewable generation, such as wind and solar power. It is part of the Demand Response and Energy Storage Integration Study, which considers the potential value of demand response and energy storage to electricity systems.


Fact Sheet: Peer-to-Peer Consultations: Ancillary Services Peer Exchange with India: Experience from South Africa, Europe & the United States (Fact Sheet), 21st Century Power Partnership
Authors: Sarah Booth, NREL

The 21st Century Power Partnership works with country partners to organize peer-to-peer consultations on critical issues. This fact sheet provides a summary of peer-to-peer consultation that the Power Partnership helped the Regulatory Assistance Project – India host. Experts from India, South Africa, Europe, and the United States discussed the provision of ancillary services.


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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.