News

February 23, 2022
Researchers at Berkeley Lab are working with five other Department of Energy national labs to develop a roadmap for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to meet its 100% renewable energy mandate. A new Memorandum of Understanding, signed earlier this month between the Commonwealth and the federal government, kickstarts this “PR100 Study,” a two-year project funded by FEMA to conduct a comprehensive... Read more
February 16, 2022
The capacity factor of wind plants in the United States has improved significantly in recent years, with newer plants exhibiting higher capacity factors than older plants. Some researchers have attributed this increase to technology improvements that boost energy capture per unit capacity, while others have instead argued that the role of technology may be overstated, and that a substantial... Read more
February 7, 2022
Meeting state energy and climate goals requires policies and programs to make electricity use more flexible and efficient.A new Berkeley Lab report, State Indicators for Advancing Demand Flexibility and Energy Efficiency in Buildings, provides signposts in 10 categories: building energy codes, appliance and equipment standards, resource standards, utility planning, utility programs, advanced... Read more
January 20, 2022
An unexpectedly cloudy day can cause solar generation to dip below expectations, and in consequence, other generators will need to compensate with additional output. One possibility is that fast acting gas combustion turbines would fill this generation gap, and while this is suitable solution from a reliability standpoint, a more fuel efficient combined cycle generator might have been able to... Read more
January 18, 2022
Berkeley Lab is pleased to announce the publication of a new article—“Land Requirements for Utility-Scale PV: An Empirical Update on Power and Energy Density”—that was recently published in the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics. Concerns about the land requirements and land-use impacts of utility-scale PV have grown as deployment has accelerated and as decarbonization plans routinely call for... Read more
January 14, 2022
Poring over the line items on your monthly electricity bill may not sound like an enticing way to spend an afternoon, but the way electricity bills are structured has a significant impact on equitable energy access and distribution. For example, fixed fees can have a disproportionate impact on low-income households. And combined with other factors, low-income households and households of color are... Read more
December 22, 2021
Berkeley Lab’s “Opportunities and Challenges to Capturing Distributed Value via Retail Utility Rates and Programs” explores how regulators and utilities can use rate and program offerings to encourage distributed battery owners to dispatch their systems in ways that provide value beyond individual bill savings for the adopter. Distributed battery storage deployment has increased in recent... Read more
December 15, 2021
Berkeley Lab's new technical brief, Quantifying grid reliability and resilience impacts of energy efficiency: Examples and opportunities, explains in plain terms how utility planning processes today value energy efficiency's contributions to electricity system reliability and resilience and recommends ways to overcome current limitations in considering those impacts. The brief is available for... Read more
December 2, 2021
The year 2020 upended routines in nearly all aspects of our lives. In the realm of energy economics, we saw prices turn negative for U.S. crude oil, natural gas, and wholesale electricity. While negative prices were unprecedented for oil, similar conditions existed for natural gas in 2019, when pipeline capacity could not accommodate the rapid expansion of associated gas production in the Permian... Read more
December 1, 2021
A new Berkeley Lab report describes how 11 demographic and household characteristics including income, race and ethnicity, and education affect participation in residential utility customer-funded energy efficiency programs. The report compiles previous work on this topic and adds new primary analysis of four datasets with different levels of detail from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey... Read more
November 29, 2021
Equity issues are being raised across all sectors of society. In a general sense, equity is just and fair inclusion. In terms of how we power our homes and our economy, equity is the fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of energy production and consumption. Policymakers are increasingly recognizing equity as a goal of utility regulation. For example, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine,... Read more
November 16, 2021
Many assessments of energy efficiency measures and program impacts provide only annual electricity savings estimates. Energy efficiency savings, however, are not constant throughout the year and instead can vary over the course of the day and by season. Since the cost of electricity generation and delivery also varies within a day and over the year, non-hourly estimates of energy efficiency... Read more
November 9, 2021
NREL’s freely available Cambium tool generates forward-looking simulations of marginal wholesale electricity costs associated with NREL’s Standard Scenarios. The scenarios include growing shares of variable renewable energy (VRE, i.e. wind and solar), among other power sector assumptions, between 2018 and 2050. The tool’s primary output—hourly costs at more than 130 balancing areas—could... Read more
November 3, 2021
Hybrid power plants, combining generation and battery storage, are catching on. Of the 170 GW of solar projects entering the grid interconnection queues in 2020, 36 percent were paired with batteries. Indeed solar/storage hybrids accounted for 21 percent of all capacity entering the queues last year. But not all hybrid plants are the same. Different configurations of generators and storage can... Read more
November 3, 2021
States are increasingly recognizing equity as a goal of utility regulation, going beyond traditionally stated objectives to ensure that electricity systems are reliable, safe, and fairly priced. But they are just beginning to grapple with how to achieve this goal. A new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Advancing Equity in Utility Regulation, provides four... Read more
October 21, 2021
Although there is growing interest in policies and programs to ensure that the benefits of solar power are equitably reaching households of all income levels, lower income households are still less likely to go solar. Some of the causes for this are well-documented and unsurprising. For example, income is unequally distributed among households, and low and moderate income (LMI) households have... Read more
October 18, 2021
Berkeley Lab analysis of empirical PV+battery data from a sample of 11 plants operating in 2020 finds that dispatch and impacts to the grid depend on the owner’s business model. In addition, Berkeley Lab updates the Solar-to-Grid report with new data for 2020, detailing trends in system impacts, reliability, and market value of stand-alone solar in the United States. A free webinar summarizing... Read more
October 14, 2021
As wind and solar energy become a larger share of electricity generation, there is growing interest in enabling these resources to provide reliability services to the grid through participation in ancillary services (AS) markets. Participation in AS markets could provide an additional source of revenue for resource owners to offset the declines in energy and capacity value that result from higher... Read more
October 6, 2021
The U.S. energy services company (ESCO) industry revenue grew more than 3% annually between 2014 and 2018, after a previous 3-year period of little growth, according to a new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The report, titled U.S. ESCO Industry: Industry Size and Recent Market Trends, draws on in-depth information collected from ESCO executives from the fall of 2019... Read more
October 5, 2021
We are pleased to release the 2021 edition of Berkeley Lab’s Utility-Scale Solar report, which presents analysis of empirical project-level data from the U.S. fleet of ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV), PV+battery, and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants with capacities exceeding 5 MWAC. While focused on key developments in 2020, this report explores trends in deployment, technology,... Read more
September 29, 2021
End-use load profiles that describe how and when buildings use energy are critically important to utility planners, regulators, state energy offices, researchers, and building owners to understand ways to best manage energy use. For example, load profiles can identify energy-consuming activities that can be shifted to different times of the day to reduce peak loads that drive utility costs and to... Read more
September 27, 2021
Nearly three-fourths of U.S. states have authorized local governments to use voluntary special assessments on commercial properties to finance energy improvements that boost economic development, create jobs, increase property values and advance energy goals. Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing allows building owners to repay the borrowed capital — from private or public... Read more
September 24, 2021
Increasing the penetration of photovoltaics (PV) reduces the marginal grid value of PV electricity, which potentially limits solar deployment and thus impedes the achievement of decarbonization goals. PV project developers can alter the design of plants in ways that preserve this value. Developers can make simple tilt and azimuth adjustments or incorporate more transformational changes such as... Read more
September 15, 2021
Innovations in Electricity ModelingVirtual Training Series for National Council on Electricity PolicyOctober 1 – November 1, 2021The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are offering free virtual training on innovations in electricity system modeling, in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and National... Read more
September 15, 2021
We are pleased to announce the release of Berkeley Lab’s latest edition of its Tracking the Sun annual report, describing pricing and design trends for grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. The latest edition is based on data from roughly 2.2 million systems installed nationally through year-end 2020. The report describes trends related to: Project... Read more