NREL Study: Cost Gap For Western U.S. Renewables Could Narrow By 2025

NA Windpower, Monday 26 August 2013 - 12:12:07

By 2025, wind and solar power electricity generation in the western U.S. could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations, according to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The report, "Beyond Renewable Portfolio Standards: An Assessment of Regional Supply and Demand Conditions Affecting the Future of Renewable Energy in the West,” compares the cost of renewables (without federal subsidy) from the West’s most productive renewable energy resource areas with the cost of energy from a new natural-gas-fired generator built near the customers it serves.

“The electric generation portfolio of the future could be both cost-effective and diverse,” says NREL Senior Analyst David Hurlbut, the report’s lead author. “If renewables and natural gas cost about the same per kilowatt-hour delivered, then value to customers becomes a matter of finding the right mix.

“Renewable energy development, to date, has mostly been in response to state mandates,” Hurlbut adds. “What this study does is look at where the most cost-effective yet untapped resources are likely to be when the last of these mandates culminates in 2025, and what it might cost to connect them to the best-matched population centers.”

According to NREL, the study’s key findings include the following:
The study notes future electricity demand will be affected by several factors, including trends in the supply and price of natural gas; consumer preferences; technological breakthroughs; further improvements in energy efficiency; and future public policies and regulations. While most of these demand factors are difficult to predict, NREL says the study’s supply forecasts rely on empirical trends and the most recent assessments of resource quality.






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