Electrical Business


NREL database makes costs of energy technologies more transparent

July 16, 2012 | By Anthony Capkun

July 16, 2012 – A new web app collects cost and performance estimates for electric generation, advanced vehicles and renewable fuel technologies, and makes them available for utilities, policy makers, consumers and academics.

The Transparent Cost Database (TCDB) app provides technology cost and performance estimates that can be used to benchmark company costs, model energy scenarios and inform R&D decisions.

The TCDB provides cost comparisons to make it easier to view the range of estimates for what energy technologies (e.g. utility-scale wind farm, rooftop solar installation, biofuel production plant or electric vehicle [EV]) might cost today or in the future. The database will help companies and investors make informed decisions supporting the commercialization and deployment of clean energy.

TCDB was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) through a grant from DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It provides “a first-cut estimate of current and projected costs and performance characteristics for vehicles, biofuels and electricity generation”, with a current focus on renewables.


The cost data is sourced from published studies and DoE’s internal planning documents. The new database will soon allow experts to contribute reliable new information to continually expand and validate the cost information available to the public. The data is arranged so users can see a range of cost and performance numbers, as well as reports on potential improvements. All data will be viewable and downloadable from DoE’s Open Energy Information platform, OpenEI.org, a virtual clearinghouse for information about energy.

The database currently contains thousands of estimates from more than 100 reports. The web interface allows the user to look at current estimates and future projections, and to filter the data of interest.

TCDB is fully integrated into OpenEI and is available at OpenEI.org. The project is still under development. Users are welcome to submit suggestions for additional functionality to tcdb@nrel.gov

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