ORIGINAL REPORTING: Energy Dept Tool Gets Energy Sector Numbers Right
Utility planners leverage better accuracy of DOE's renewable cost forecast tool; National lab researchers' methods confirm ongoing price trends, winning users over.
Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 7, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: DOE numbers on New Energy continue to document its competitiveness with traditional generation.
The long-term falling costs for wind and solar shown in the Annual Technology Baseline (ATB) projections from the Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are closer to what planners, forecasters and analysts see in near-term marketplace data, which has them turning more frequently to the DOE's new tools. The ATB can be useful to any analyst without the in-house capabilities necessary to do long-term projections of renewables' costs and performance and who find the Annual Energy Outlook from the DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) inadequate, NREL Research Scientist Wesley Cole said.
Until recent years, utility and system planners could choose among generating resources with relatively stable capital and operating expenses, such as coal and natural gas plants. The cost and performance data used to form the basis for those choices were equally stable. That is changing fast. Renewables penetrations are rising quickly on many of the nation's grids as their falling costs make their appeal too great for utilities to pass up. The costs of contracts for both wind and solar generation continue to fall rapidly, making the stakes for planners in pursuit of the least-cost, best-fit investments are high. An example is the "rush to gas" created by historic low natural gas prices between 2005 and 2015. The plummeting cost of renewables now has planners eliminating natural gas from future portfolios to avoid stranded assets… click here for more