New Database Makes Costs of Energy Technologies More Transparent

July 16, 2012

As part of the Energy Department's Open Energy Information platform (Open EI) and its continued commitment to open and transparent energy data, the Department released today a new public database featuring cost and performance estimates for electric generation, advanced vehicle, and renewable fuel technologies. The Transparent Cost Database (TCDB) provides technology cost estimates for companies, utilities, policy makers, consumers, and academics, and can be used to benchmark company costs, model energy scenarios, and inform research and development decisions. The database makes it much easier to view 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.

By providing an initial estimate of current and projected costs and performance characteristics for vehicles, biofuels, and renewable electricity generation, the new database will help companies and investors make informed decisions supporting the commercialization and deployment of clean energy.

The Energy Department works closely with private companies to accurately estimate technology costs in order to plan its research and development projects. The TCDB provides access to published historical and projected cost targets and performance estimates developed by DOE, in a place that is easy to find and update. 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. The estimates and targets in the TCDB are a result of DOE's detailed and ongoing road-mapping process for various technologies. The goal of these roadmaps is to guide research and development investments and to define success metrics for a given technology program. The roadmaps used in part to generate the TCDB provide detailed engineering-based estimates of steps to reduce cost and improve performance.

The new database will soon allow experts outside of DOE to contribute reliable new data to continually expand and validate the cost information available to the public. 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 tcdb@nrel.gov.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.

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