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Estimating Renewable Energy Costs Using CREST

September 12, 2012

The Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST), an economic cash-flow model, enables state policymakers, regulators, utilities, beginning developers or investors, and other stakeholders to assess the economics of renewable energy projects and evaluate the impact of tax incentives or other support structures. Developed by a partnership between NREL, DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program, DOE's Geothermal Technologies Program, and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions, CREST covers solar (PV and solar thermal), wind, and geothermal technologies.

The Excel-based CREST models allow users to:

  • Estimate the year-one cost of energy (COE) and levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from a range of solar, wind, and geothermal electricity generation projects
  • Inform the process of setting cost-based incentive rates
  • Gain understanding of the economic drivers of renewable energy projects
  • Understand the relative economics of generation projects with differing characteristics, such as project size, resource quality, location, or ownership.

Download CREST or learn more at

CREST was used in recent NREL report Geothermal FIT Design: International Experience and U.S. Considerations.

—Jim Leyshon