Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Report From NREL Evaluates Proposed Federal Renewable Standards on the Electricity Sector

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the premier renewable energy research institution in the U.S., has published a new study that compares three proposed federal renewable energy standards (RES).

The "Comparative Analysis of Three Proposed Federal Renewable Electricity Standards" analyzes bills introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, Congressman Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and a bill sponsored jointly by Congressmen Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Markey.  The analysis compares these bills with the combined impact of the renewable portfolio standards already in place in 28 states.  

According to the study, the Bingaman measure would result in a "peak effective RES" of 12.1 percent.  The Markey measure would result in a peak of 21.8 percent, and the Waxman-Markey bill would result in a peak of 17 percent.  The base scenario -- which takes into account the currently existing state-based renewable energy portfolio standards -- was estimated to generate 10.4 percent of national load in 2020 and 12.4 percent in 2024.

In terms of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, the Bingaman proposal reduces emissions 95 million metric tons annually in 2030 compared to the base case.  The Markey RES saves an estimated 150 million metric tons annually in 2030 and the Waxman proposal reduces emissions by 435 million metric tons by 2030.

To evaluate the impact of the three federal proposals on the U.S. electricity sector, a team of NREL senior energy analysts used a "detailed least-cost optimization model capable of simulating the special attributes of variable sources like wind and solar power."

The study provides an overview of how the electric utility sector "might develop in the next several decades under various policy scenarios," Douglas J. Arent, NREL's director of Strategy Energy Analysis and Applications Center, said.

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