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National Utility Rate Database: Preprint

Description: When modeling solar energy technologies and other distributed energy systems, using high-quality expansive electricity rates is essential. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed a utility rate platform for entering, storing, updating, and accessing a large collection of utility rates from around the United States. This utility rate platform lives on the Open Energy Information (OpenEI) website, OpenEI.org, allowing the data to be programmatically accessed from a web browser, using an application programming interface (API). The semantic-based utility rate platform currently has record of 1,885 utility rates and covers over 85% of the electricity consumption in the United States.
Date: August 1, 2012
Creator: Ong, S. & McKeel, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Break-Even Cost for Residential Solar Water Heating in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities

Description: This paper examines the break-even cost for residential rooftop solar water heating (SWH) technology, defined as the point where the cost of the energy saved with a SWH system equals the cost of a conventional heating fuel purchased from the grid (either electricity or natural gas). We examine the break-even cost for the largest 1,000 electric and natural gas utilities serving residential customers in the United States as of 2008. Currently, the break-even cost of SWH in the United States varies by more than a factor of five for both electricity and natural gas, despite a much smaller variation in the amount of energy saved by the systems (a factor of approximately one and a half). The break-even price for natural gas is lower than that for electricity due to a lower fuel cost. We also consider the relationship between SWH price and solar fraction and examine the key drivers behind break-even costs. Overall, the key drivers of the break-even cost of SWH are a combination of fuel price, local incentives, and technical factors including the solar resource location, system size, and hot water draw.
Date: February 1, 2011
Creator: Cassard, H.; Denholm, P. & Ong, S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Impacts of Commercial Electric Utility Rate Structure Elements on the Economics of Photovoltaic Systems

Description: This analysis uses simulated building data, simulated solar photovoltaic (PV) data, and actual electric utility tariff data from 25 cities to understand better the impacts of different commercial rate structures on the value of solar PV systems. By analyzing and comparing 55 unique rate structures across the United States, this study seeks to identify the rate components that have the greatest effect on the value of PV systems. Understanding the beneficial components of utility tariffs can both assist decision makers in choosing appropriate rate structures and influence the development of rates that favor the deployment of PV systems. Results from this analysis show that a PV system's value decreases with increasing demand charges. Findings also indicate that time-of-use rate structures with peaks coincident with PV production and wide ranges between on- and off-peak prices most benefit the types of buildings and PV systems simulated. By analyzing a broad set of rate structures from across the United States, this analysis provides an insight into the range of impacts that current U.S. rate structures have on PV systems.
Date: June 1, 2010
Creator: Ong, S.; Denholm, P. & Doris, E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Energy Savings and Breakeven Cost for Residential Heat Pump Water Heaters in the United States

Description: Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) have recently reemerged in the U.S. residential water heating market and have the potential to provide homeowners with significant energy savings. However, there are questions as to the actual performance and energy savings potential of these units, in particular in regards to the heat pump's performance in unconditioned space and the impact of the heat pump on space heating and cooling loads when it is located in conditioned space. To help answer these questions, simulations were performed of a HPWH in both conditioned and unconditioned space at over 900 locations across the continental United States and Hawaii. Simulations included a Building America benchmark home so that any interaction between the HPWH and the home's HVAC equipment could be captured. Comparisons were performed to typical gas and electric water heaters to determine the energy savings potential and cost effectiveness of a HPWH relative to these technologies. HPWHs were found to have a significant source energy savings potential when replacing typical electric water heaters, but only saved source energy relative to gas water heater in the most favorable installation locations in the southern US. When replacing an electric water heater, the HPWH is likely to break even in California, the southern US, and parts of the northeast in most situations. However, the HPWH will only break even when replacing a gas water heater in a few southern states.
Date: July 1, 2013
Creator: Maguire, J.; Burch, J.; Merrigan, T. & Ong, S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) in the Residential Sector: An Analysis of Installed Rooftop System Prices

Description: For more than 30 years, there have been strong efforts to accelerate the deployment of solar-electric systems by developing photovoltaic (PV) products that are fully integrated with building materials. This report examines the status of building-integrated PV (BIPV), with a focus on the cost drivers of residential rooftop systems, and explores key opportunities and challenges in the marketplace.
Date: November 1, 2011
Creator: James, T.; Goodrich, A.; Woodhouse, M.; Margolis, R. & Ong, S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Impacts of Regional Electricity Prices and Building Type on the Economics of Commercial Photovoltaic Systems

Description: To identify the impacts of regional electricity prices and building type on the economics of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, 207 rate structures across 77 locations and 16 commercial building types were evaluated. Results for expected solar value are reported for each location and building type. Aggregated results are also reported, showing general trends across various impact categories.
Date: December 1, 2012
Creator: Ong, S.; Campbell, C. & Clark, N.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Grid Parity for Residential Photovoltaics in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities; Preprint

Description: In this report, we analyze PV break-even costs for U.S. residential customers. We evaluate some key drivers of grid parity both regionally and over time. We also examine the impact of moving from flat to time-of-use (TOU) rates, and we evaluate individual components of the break-even cost, including effect of rate structure and various incentives. Finally, we examine how PV markets might evolve on a regional basis considering the sensitivity of the break-even cost to four major drivers: technical performance, financing parameters, electricity prices and rates, and policies. We find that electricity price rather than technical parameters are in general the key drivers of the break-even cost of PV. Additionally, this analysis provides insight about the potential viability of PV markets.
Date: August 1, 2012
Creator: Ong, S.; Denholm, P. & Clark, N.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Breakeven Prices for Photovoltaics on Supermarkets in the United States

Description: The photovoltaic (PV) breakeven price is the PV system price at which the cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid. This point is also called 'grid parity' and can be expressed as dollars per watt ($/W) of installed PV system capacity. Achieving the PV breakeven price depends on many factors, including the solar resource, local electricity prices, customer load profile, PV incentives, and financing. In the United States, where these factors vary substantially across regions, breakeven prices vary substantially across regions as well. In this study, we estimate current and future breakeven prices for PV systems installed on supermarkets in the United States. We also evaluate key drivers of current and future commercial PV breakeven prices by region. The results suggest that breakeven prices for PV systems installed on supermarkets vary significantly across the United States. Non-technical factors -- including electricity rates, rate structures, incentives, and the availability of system financing -- drive break-even prices more than technical factors like solar resource or system orientation. In 2020 (where we assume higher electricity prices and lower PV incentives), under base-case assumptions, we estimate that about 17% of supermarkets will be in utility territories where breakeven conditions exist at a PV system price of $3/W; this increases to 79% at $1.25/W (the DOE SunShot Initiative's commercial PV price target for 2020). These percentages increase to 26% and 91%, respectively, when rate structures favorable to PV are used.
Date: March 1, 2013
Creator: Ong, S.; Clark, N.; Denholm, P. & Margolis, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Estimating Rooftop Suitability for PV: A Review of Methods, Patents, and Validation Techniques

Description: A number of methods have been developed using remote sensing data to estimate rooftop area suitable for the installation of photovoltaics (PV) at various geospatial resolutions. This report reviews the literature and patents on methods for estimating rooftop-area appropriate for PV, including constant-value methods, manual selection methods, and GIS-based methods. This report also presents NREL's proposed method for estimating suitable rooftop area for PV using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data in conjunction with a GIS model to predict areas with appropriate slope, orientation, and sunlight. NREL's method is validated against solar installation data from New Jersey, Colorado, and California to compare modeled results to actual on-the-ground measurements.
Date: December 1, 2013
Creator: Melius, J.; Margolis, R. & Ong, S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Break-Even Cost for Residential Photovoltaics in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities

Description: Grid parity--or break-even cost--for photovoltaic (PV) technology is defined as the point where the cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid. Break-even cost is expressed in $/W of an installed system. Achieving break-even cost is a function of many variables. Consequently, break-even costs vary by location and time for a country, such as the United States, with a diverse set of resources, electricity prices, and other variables. In this report, we analyze PV break-even costs for U.S. residential customers. We evaluate some key drivers of grid parity both regionally and over time. We also examine the impact of moving from flat to time-of-use (TOU) rates, and we evaluate individual components of the break-even cost, including effect of rate structure and various incentives. Finally, we examine how PV markets might evolve on a regional basis considering the sensitivity of the break-even cost to four major drivers: technical performance, financing parameters, electricity prices and rates, and policies. We find that local incentives rather than ?technical? parameters are in general the key drivers of the break-even cost of PV. Additionally, this analysis provides insight about the potential viability of PV markets.
Date: December 1, 2009
Creator: Denholm, P.; Margolis, R. M.; Ong, S. & Roberts, B.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Using Utility Load Data to Estimate Demand for Space Cooling and Potential for Shiftable Loads

Description: This paper describes a simple method to estimate hourly cooling demand from historical utility load data. It compares total hourly demand to demand on cool days and compares these estimates of total cooling demand to previous regional and national estimates. Load profiles generated from this method may be used to estimate the potential for aggregated demand response or load shifting via cold storage.
Date: May 1, 2012
Creator: Denholm, P.; Ong, S. & Booten, C.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Rate Analysis of Two Photovoltaic Systems in San Diego

Description: Analysts have found increasing evidence that rate structure has impacts on the economics of solar systems. This paper uses 2007 15-minute interval photovoltaic (PV) system and load data from two San Diego City water treatment facilities to illustrate impacts of different rate designs. The comparison is based on rates available in San Diego at the time of data collection and include proportionately small to large demand charges (relative to volumetric consumption), and varying on- and off- peak times. Findings are twofold for these large commercial systems: 1) transferring costs into demand charges does not result in savings and 2) changes in peak times do not result in a major cost difference during the course of a year. While lessons learned and discussion on rate components are based on the findings, the applicability is limited to buildings with similar systems, environments, rate options, and loads.
Date: July 1, 2009
Creator: Doris, E.; Ong, S. & Van Geet, O.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) in the Residential Section: An Analysis of Installed Rooftop Prices (Presentation)

Description: This powerpoint presentation to be presented at the World Renewable Energy Forum on May 17, 2012, in Denver, CO, discusses building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) in the residential section and includes an analysis of installed rooftop prices.
Date: June 1, 2012
Creator: James, T.; Goodrich, A.; Woodhouse, M.; Margolis, R. & Ong, S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Breakeven Cost for Residential Photovoltaics in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities (Report Summary) (Presentation)

Description: "Break-even cost" for photovoltaic (PV) technology is defined as the point where the cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid. Break-even cost is expressed in $/W of an installed system. Achieving break-even cost is a function of many variables. Consequently, break-even costs vary by location and time for a country, such as the United States, with a diverse set of resources, electricity prices, and other variables. In this presentation, we introduce an analysis of PV break-even costs for residential customers in the United States, including an evaluation of some of the key drivers of PV breakeven both regionally and over time. This presentation includes our methodology and presents results for both near-term residential breakeven costs(2009) and future market sensitivities of break-even costs (2015). See also the the report "Break-Even Cost for Residential Photovoltaics in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities". Presentation for NREL/TP-6A2-45991.
Date: December 1, 2009
Creator: Denholm, P.; Margolis, R. M.; Ong, S. & Roberts, B.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Regional Variation in Residential Heat Pump Water Heater Performance in the U.S.: Preprint

Description: Residential heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) have recently reemerged on the U.S. market. These units have the potential to provide homeowners significant cost and energy savings. However, actual in use performance of a HPWH will vary significantly with climate, installation location, HVAC equipment, and hot water use. To determine what actual in use energy consumption of a HPWH may be in different regions of the U.S., annual simulations of both 50 and 80 gallon HPWHs as well as a standard electric water heater were performed for over 900 locations across the U.S. The simulations included a benchmark home to take into account interactions between the space conditioning equipment and the HPWH and a realistic hot water draw profile. It was found that the HPWH will always save some source energy when compared to a standard electric resistance water heater, although savings varies widely with location. In addition to looking at source energy savings, the breakeven cost (the net installed cost a HPWH would have to have to be a cost neutral replacement for a standard water heater) was also examined. The highest breakeven costs were seen in cases with high energy savings, such as the southeastern U.S., or high energy costs, such as New England and California. While the breakeven cost is higher for 80 gallon units than 50 gallon units, the higher net installed costs of an 80 gallon unit lead to the 50 gallon HPWHs being more likely to be cost effective.
Date: January 2014
Creator: Maguire, J.; Burch, J.; Merrigan, T. & Ong, S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States

Description: This report provides data and analysis of the land use associated with utility-scale ground-mounted solar facilities, defined as installations greater than 1 MW. We begin by discussing standard land-use metrics as established in the life-cycle assessment literature and then discuss their applicability to solar power plants. We present total and direct land-use results for various solar technologies and system configurations, on both a capacity and an electricity-generation basis. The total area corresponds to all land enclosed by the site boundary. The direct area comprises land directly occupied by solar arrays, access roads, substations, service buildings, and other infrastructure. As of the third quarter of 2012, the solar projects we analyze represent 72% of installed and under-construction utility-scale PV and CSP capacity in the United States.
Date: June 1, 2013
Creator: Ong, S.; Campbell, C.; Denholm, P.; Margolis, R. & Heath, G.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Benchmarking Non-Hardware Balance of System (Soft) Costs for U.S. Photovoltaic Systems Using a Data-Driven Analysis from PV Installer Survey Results

Description: This report presents results from the first U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored, bottom-up data-collection and analysis of non-hardware balance-of-system costs--often referred to as 'business process' or 'soft' costs--for residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) systems.
Date: November 1, 2012
Creator: Ardani, K.; Barbose, G.; Margolis, R.; Wiser, R.; Feldman, D. & Ong, S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

2008 Solar Technologies Market Report

Description: The focus of this report is the U.S. solar electricity market, including photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. The report is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 provides an overview of global and U.S. installation trends. Chapter 2 presents production and shipment data, material and supply chain issues, and solar industry employment trends. Chapter 3 presents cost, price, and performance trends. Chapter 4 discusses policy and market drivers such as recently passed federal legislation, state and local policies, and developments in project financing. Chapter 5 provides data on private investment trends and near-term market forecasts. Highlights of this report include: (1) The global PV industry has seen impressive growth rates in cell/module production during the past decade, with a 10-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% and a 5-year CAGR of 56% through 2008. (2) Thin-film PV technologies have grown faster than crystalline silicon over the past 5 years, with a 10-year CAGR of 47% and a 5-year CAGR of 87% for thin-film shipments through 2008. (3) Global installed PV capacity increased by 6.0 GW in 2008, a 152% increase over 2.4 GW installed in 2007. (4) The United States installed 0.34 GW of PV capacity in 2008, a 63% increase over 0.21 GW in 2007. (5) Global average PV module prices dropped 23% from $4.75/W in 1998 to $3.65/W in 2008. (6) Federal legislation, including the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA, October 2008) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, February 2009), is providing unprecedented levels of support for the U.S. solar industry. (7) In 2008, global private-sector investment in solar energy technology topped $16 billion, including almost $4 billion invested in the United States. (8) Solar PV market forecasts made in early 2009 anticipate global PV production and demand to increase fourfold ...
Date: January 1, 2010
Creator: Price, S.; Margolis, R.; Barbose, G.; Bartlett, J.; Cory, K.; Couture, T. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department