Energy Analysis: About Us
NETL conducts a variety of energy analysis studies to identify promising research and development (R&D) opportunities that provide balanced solutions enabling economic sustainability, energy supply security, and technology solutions that mitigate global climate change and improve environmental performance.
NETL-conducted studies involve the assessment of complex, large systems that require a multi-disciplinary approach to understand current trends and future needs related to energy production, distribution, and use. These strategic assessments and related planning efforts require evaluation of current parameters, near term trends, and futuristic scenarios.
Key Analysis Areas
Technology analysis evaluates the performance and cost of energy technologies. NETL analysts use process engineering simulation software to develop mass and energy balances for energy technologies. Other computer-based tools are used to develop and track cost estimates and compare alternative financial options. Technology analysis provides input to decisions on issues such as national R&D programs, resource use, environmental and energy security policies, and deployment of energy technology.
Energy Data and Trends analysis assesses near- and long-term trends within the energy industry and in the U.S. and world economy that may impact energy price, availability, and security while influencing the choice of fuels and energy production technologies. Overall, these activities require extensive data gathering; networking with key professionals within government, industry, and academia; understanding proposals for legislative action; and communicating findings and conclusions throughout the stakeholder community. Cooperative relationships are maintained with industry, regulatory agencies, and consumer and public awareness groups.
Benefits analysis focuses on quantifying both prospective and retrospective benefits of energy R&D programs using economic models. These studies deliver an understanding of the potential economic competitiveness of advanced energy technologies being developed at NETL, both in the near term and over the next several decades. The extent to which benefits are realized is a function of several factors, including:
- Success at meeting R&D goals
- Competition with other technologies
- Future energy prices
- Future regulatory actions
Since the future of markets and regulations is uncertain, alternative scenarios must be considered. NETL analysts use economic models to forecast the market penetration of advanced energy systems for a variety of possible futures. The associated benefits are quantified in terms of reduced cost of energy, reduced environmental impacts, and improved energy security.
Life Cycle Assessment quantifies cradle to grave environmental and economic impacts. Results of analyses are used for planning DOE's energy related R&D program, and ensuring that it is comprehensive, well-balanced, and framed to yield significant contributions to the country.
Integrated Electric Power Systems Infrastructure analysis evaluates options for generation, transmission, distribution, and consumption of electricity considering the value of electric power to industry, consumers, and society. Infrastructure decisions are impacted by a wide range of factors including technology options, regulations, standards, government policy, availability of capital and skilled labor, political authority, business practices, and consumer and societal needs and perspectives. Studies involve analyzing the interdependencies of electric power systems with other critical infrastructures, particularly the water infrastructure. Integrated electric power systems analyses are designed to:
- Guide R&D investment decisions.
- Evaluate various configurations of Smart Grid.
- Identify electric power system risks and mitigation strategies.
- Support various transmission site placement, permitting, and analysis work.
The understanding provided by these studies will lead to optimized electric power system design and operation while assisting government, the power industry, and consumers in making informed infrastructure-related decisions.