Economic Analysis and Data Analytics

NREL's unique economic modeling and analysis capabilities clarify the financial impacts of wind energy technology and process innovations.

Graphic of wind turbines.

NREL steers wind industry R&D strategies by tracking and analyzing historical technology trends associated with land-based and offshore projects. Our engineering and cost models consider the interplay between technology innovation, system-level tradeoffs, and R&D impacts, while our capacity expansion and grid operations models inform broader wind energy deployment and integration into the power system.

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See a summary slide deck of NREL's wind-energy-related economic analysis and data analytics capabilities, research, and projects. Explore more below.

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Techno-Economic Analysis

NREL analysts provide technological and economic analyses to address high-priority executive, congressional, industry, and senior management priorities. Our supporting economic impact research and modeling tools provide the industry with information on costs, benefits, risks, uncertainties, and timeframes related to the development and operation of wind energy in the United States.

Areas of Expertise

  • Historical market and technology trends
  • Wind technology (turbine, plant, balance of systems) innovation and system design, optimization, and cost analyses
  • Plant innovation impacts at regional and continental scales

Digitalization, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning

NREL aims to realize new levels of efficiency, accuracy, and cost reductions by applying data-driven technological developments in AI and machine learning that are made possible by widespread digitization, Internet of Things, data science tools, and open data management. Our team supports partners with high-performance computing and onsite meteorological towers and turbines to evaluate IOT integrations, edge-computing techniques, and other Industry 4.0 technologies.

Areas of Expertise

  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Open-source big data management and analytics
  • Statistics and visualization
  • Instrumentation and internet-of-things deployments

Wind Energy and the Future Power Grid

NREL researchers develop and apply advanced capacity expansion and production cost models to study the potential for, and impact of, integrating large-scale renewable energy resources onto the electric power grid. We also assess the economic value of wind and its capability to provide a suite of grid services—capacity, energy, operating reserves, and essential reliability services—needed for a reliable grid today and in the future.

Areas of Expertise

  • Capacity expansion modeling
  • Production cost simulations
  • Probabilistic resource adequacy analyses
  • Renewable grid integration

Land-Use and Spatial Analysis

NREL is building new geospatial modeling capabilities for renewable energy potential that consider emerging turbine technologies, provide higher-fidelity characterizations of deployment opportunities, and account for various location-based challenges.

Areas of Expertise

  • Spatial statistical analyses
  • Techno-economic supply curve modeling
  • Spatiotemporal "big data" high-performance computing and machine learning
  • Visualization and mapping
  • Machine learning for spatial prediction

Jobs and Economic Development Impacts 

NREL develops and maintains economic impact models for land-based wind, offshore wind, and other renewable energy technologies. Our team informs state and local communities about the workforce and economic opportunities associated with wind energy development, deployment, and operations.

Areas of Expertise

  • Economic impact modeling
  • Community economic development
  • Wind energy workforce estimation