Renewable Energy Supply Curves
NREL develops and disseminates renewable energy supply curves for the research community.
Supply curves characterize the quantity, quality, and cost of renewable resources. Often developed within a scenario framework, they capture a range of drivers that influence renewable energy potential. This foundational information serves as the basis for a variety of analysis and modeling applications.
We currently have supply curve data and an interactive map available for onshore wind. Data and maps are being developed for solar and offshore wind.
Wind Supply Curves
Note: The map is not visible on mobile devices; please view this page on your desktop to access it.
Wind supply curve data are provided in .csv format and include latitude, longitude, available area, capacity potential, generation potential, generator capacity factor, and distance to interconnect.
The Open Access supply curve data only applies land area exclusions based on physical constraints (e.g., wetlands, building footprints) or for protected lands. Download the Open Access data.
The Reference Access supply curve data applies a wider range of exclusions and is used by default in NREL’s capacity expansion modeling. Download the Reference Access data.
The Limited Access supply curve data applies the most restrictive land area exclusions, capturing potential increased setback requirements and difficulties deploying on federally managed lands. Download the Limited Access data.
Wind Supply Curve Development
Wind potential is often assessed in terms of geographic, technical, and economic potential—each of which represents a succession of additional complexity and input assumptions that leverage similar data and a common analysis flow. This is done by first assessing the wind resource (e.g., wind speed), incorporating an assessment of land availability, assuming wind turbine design details, and incorporating costs for site and transmission development.
Ultimately, this results in a spatially resolved characterization of the developable quantity, quality, and cost of wind resources, which can be sorted to represent a "supply curve."
A Coordinated Research and Modeling Effort
Renewable energy supply curves are developed through a coordinated effort between several research teams and models. Analysts generate the supply curves using a collection of data and analysis from NREL. Then, the supply curves themselves are used as inputs to NREL models for further analysis. These connections and links to other tools and data sets are as follows:
- Provides a consistent set of technology cost and performance data for energy analysis.
- Technology assumptions, including plant configurations, are used to develop the supply curves.
- For wind technologies, provides cost and performance projections for several “resource classes” (10 for onshore wind and 14 for offshore wind). Each resource class represents a wind speed range, where the ranges are determined based on a percentile of the Open Access supply curve assumptions (see the land-based wind description for details). Because of this connection, the projections and the supply curves are inextricably linked.
- Standard assumptions used include cost and performance projections from the ATB and the supply curves presented here.
- Uses the default Reference Access wind supply curve.
Renewable Energy Potential Model – used to generate the supply curves
Wind Integration National Dataset Toolkit – used for wind resource data
National Solar Radiation Database – used for solar resource data
System Advisor Model – used to estimate hourly and annual power plant generation for all points on the supply curve.
Land Use and Turbine Technology Influences on Wind Potential in the United States, Energy (2021)
NREL analysts used uniquely detailed geospatial modeling and high-resolution datasets to examine onshore wind resource potential for the continental United States.
Interactions of Wind Energy Project Siting, Wind Resource Potential, and the Evolution
of the U.S. Power System, Energy (2021)
Building on the geospatial analysis in the publication above, NREL analysts used power-sector modeling to study the interactions between wind siting considerations and the evolution of the U.S. power system.