Check Out This Renewable Energy App

By Luke Geiver | August 24, 2012

Biofuel production plants, biomass power facilities and utility-scale wind farms are now no different than personal calculators, workout plans or time spent searching for the nearest gas station. Thanks to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, there’s now an app for renewable energy (still web-based for now). The Transparent Cost Database allows users to compare the costs of various technologies, including what a particular technology will cost to install, to operate, and the time it would take to pay for itself.

According to NREL, “the new database will help companies and investors make informed decisions supporting the commercialization and deployment of clean energy.” Using a variety of publically available information (some data sets more easy to access than others) the TCDB provides a first-cut estimate of current and projected costs or renewable energy technologies.

The interface allows a user to see the costs associated with gasification-based biofuel production versus biochemical-based production for example, including information on capital, operating and feedstock costs. Although the interface is still under development, the goal of NREL is to allow industry input into the calculations that are made and included in the database. The entire system contains thousands of estimates on technology related costs supported with several easy to access and condensed explanations that can be accessed by a simple mouse-click.

Of course, the database includes a disclaimer reminding users that the information cannot entirely reflect real-world situations, but, the sheer amount of data and the ability of NREL to connect that data with reports and other information is impressive and offers another tool for research and development for future projects or ongoing work. The TCDB may not help anyone find a gas station, but it might help remind someone how we can make the trip to fill-up less disruptive to the proverbial pocketbook a reality through biobased energy production methods.