NREL Electricity Technology Report Offers Distributed Wind Data for First Time


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) 2022 Electricity Annual Technology Baseline (ATB) is now available, adding distributed wind and pumped storage hydropower supply curve data for the first time. The ATB integrates current and projected cost and performance data for electricity generation and storage technologies into one user-friendly format. The data is freely available to the public.

The Electricity ATB is a collaborative project led by NREL, with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. Products included in the ATB incorporate analysis from a variety of published reports.

The ATB was first developed in 2015 to ensure consistent and timely assumptions across energy analysis studies, as clean energy costs were declining. Every year, the ATB is updated and released to include updates and new data on additional electricity-generation and storage technologies. The ATB has had over 86,000 users from 144 countries to date.

“More and more energy analyses rely on data and modeling tools to answer new questions about the evolving power system,” says Laura Vimmerstedt, ATB project lead at NREL. “The ATB provides energy analysts, modelers, and system planners with consistent and reliable data to help them conduct forward-looking scenario analyses.”

ATB data is widely used, including in NREL’s annual Standard Scenarios that explore possible pathways for U.S. electric sector evolution over time. Other NREL studies have used the Standard Scenarios to examine specific futures, including the Storage Futures Study and Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study, NREL’s partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to explore the costs of reaching 100% renewable electricity.

For the first time, the 2022 Electricity ATB includes distributed wind and pumped storage hydropower supply curve data, along with the annual cost and performance updates to all technologies.

Distributed wind data is from NREL’s recent Distributed Wind Energy Futures Study – a highly detailed, comprehensive analysis of opportunities for widespread U.S. deployment of distributed wind in 2035. The study found distributed wind has economic potential of nearly 1,400 GW, today – or more than half of current U.S. annual electricity consumption.

“We’re excited to include distributed wind and pumped storage hydropower for the first time in this year’s ATB,” adds Vimmerstedt. “To achieve U.S. federal targets of 100 percent clean electricity in 2035 and a net-zero carbon economy in 2050, all forms of renewable power will be important to consider. By including these new technologies, we can answer more questions about potential pathways to transform the electric sector.”

Every year, the Electricity ATB includes a suite of products to support energy modeling and analysis. An Excel spreadsheet documents detailed current and projected cost and performance data for electricity generation technologies. API and ATB Summary CSV files capture technology cost and performance in a computational and database-friendly format. Tableau workbook files provide access to original visualizations.

The website provides in-depth documentation of the key products, including details on historical trends, current estimates, and future projections of three primary cost and performance factors (capital expenditures, capacity factor, and operations and maintenance cost). It offers documentation of the methodology and assumptions used to develop the projections of future cost and performance under conservative-, moderate- and advanced technology innovation scenarios. There is discussion of the calculation of levelized cost of energy to illustrate the combined effects of the primary cost and performance factors, using two different sets of financing assumptions.

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