NREL releases CREST model for anaerobic digesters

By Chris Hanson | March 14, 2013

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released an updated version of its Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool for anaerobic digestion (AD) projects. The CREST model for AD projects allows policymakers, regulators and biogas professionals in the industry to understand and assess project economics, design cost-based incentives and evaluate the impact of various state and federal support structures. NREL showcased the updated tool during a webinar on March 13.

The CREST model allows users to estimate the cost of energy from anaerobic digesters that generate electricity. The tool also helps provide a clearer understanding of the economic drivers of a particular AD project, and aids in deciphering the economics of projects featuring different variables, such as size, resource quality, location, and ownership.

The CREST is an Excel spreadsheet with multiple tabs for users. From the input tab, users enter information such as revenue and expenses along with the nameplate capacity. The tab automatically calculates several plant statistics, including the amount of biogas consumed per day and heat rates.

After entering the information in the input tab, users are able to see the effects on the summary results tab, which features the net year-one cost of energy by kWh along with a plant summary. The program allows the user to copy the results into a side section enables the comparison of multiple project scenarios.

The last few tabs of the CREST focus on cash flows and a section for complex inputs.

The CREST is available as a free tool on the NREL website that PC users may download here.