National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Green Power Supercharge

Over the past decade, utility green power programs (also known as green pricing programs) have helped utilities across the nation meet growing customer demand for electricity generated using renewable resources, as well as support both large- and small-scale local renewable energy projects. Additionally they’ve helped utilities improve relations with utility commissions, local environmental groups, and other key stakeholders.

DR Distortion

Are subsidies the best way to achieve smart grid goals?

FERC has proposed that wholesale energy markets should subsidize load reductions with full LMP (locational marginal price), without deducting the customers’ retail savings. Such a policy could distort the market, and other solutions might achieve the same objectives more efficiently.

Cap and Innovate

An alternative approach to climate regulation.

Low carbon prices might not produce sufficient incentives for firms to innovate and reduce emissions in the long run. But relatively high carbon prices can be politically unacceptable and invite consumer backlash. Where’s the right balance? A PUC chairman offers an alternative approach to managing GHG emissions.

Beyond Intermittency

Forecasting brings wind energy under control.

Advancements in forecasting have improved the reliability of day-ahead and hour-ahead estimates of wind generation. Wind never will behave like a base-load power plant. But as system operators integrate wind forecasts into their planning and market processes, they’re transforming intermittent wind energy into a variable but reliable resource.

Capturing Ocean Heat

Ocean thermal energy conversion offers a timely renewable alternative.

23 million square miles of tropical oceans daily absorb solar radiation equal in heat content to about 250 billion barrels of oil. Ocean thermal energy conversion technologies convert this solar radiation into electrical power by exploiting the thermal gradient temperature differences between the surface and the depths. This enormous resource merits a closer look as policy makers consider alternative technologies for serving future energy demands.

Carbon In Electricity Markets

Price transparency will drive GHG reductions.

In light of coming GHG legislation, price transparency is the key to achieving cleaner generation through the dispatch of lower-carbon sources.

Smart Storage

The intelligent grid cannot be achieved without energy storage.

While much has been written about the intelligent grid of late, little attention has been focused on the role of energy storage in achieving its expected benefits. Energy storage is an essential component of the intelligent grid. Energy storage provides greater grid integration of variable renewable energy resource output (e.g., wind, solar); improved system reliability via the provision of grid regulation services; and peak demand reductions and, in turn, deferred capital spending on new and upgraded transmission and distribution assets.

Green Price Stability

New approaches account for the economic benefits of renewables.

Many green power customers benefit from long-term fixed prices. The most effective programs recognize the value of this price hedge—and fairly exempt customers from fuel cost adders in utility rates.

Riding on The Wind

Plug-in hybrids usher a new era for wind power.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) open a new intersection between wind power and transportation.

RPS Race

As green mandates tighten, utilities scramble to comply.

Mandatory renewable portfolio standards are becoming the norm. But after low-hanging green fruits are harvested, renewable power might get scarce. Many utilities will struggle to meet RPS requirements until lawmakers create stable federal policies and a national market for green credits.