A bird's eye view of energy technology costs

July 23, 2012
A new public database gives cost and performance estimates for electric generation, advanced vehicle, and renewable fuel technologies.

Want to know the average variable operating cost for wind turbines? Or how about the capacity factor for photovoltaic solar arrays? You can find out these things and much, much more from a new public database featuring cost and performance estimates for electric generation, advanced vehicle, and renewable fuel technologies.

The DOE's Transparent Cost Database (TCDB) provides technology cost estimates and can be used to benchmark company costs, model energy scenarios, and inform research and development decisions -- or settle arguments. The database provides a quick view of the range of estimates for what energy technologies, such as a utility-scale wind farm, rooftop solar installation, biofuel production plant, or an electric vehicle, might cost today or in the future.

The TCDB provides online access to published historical and projected cost targets and performance estimates developed by DOE. The cost data are sourced from published studies and DOE program-planning or budget documents that, while public, were previously difficult to find and collect.

The database currently contains thousands of estimates from more than 100 reports. And the new database will soon let experts outside DOE contribute reliable new data to continually expand and validate the cost information available to the public, the Agency says. All data will be viewable and downloadable from DOE's Open Energy Information platform, OpenEI.org, and arranged so users can see a range of cost and performance numbers, as well as reports on potential improvements.

TCDB was developed by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with funding from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The project is still under development. Users are welcome to submit suggestions for additional functionality to [email protected].

You can find the database here: http://en.openei.org/apps/TCDB/

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