Task Statement for AEF Panel on Electricity from Renewable Resources

This panel will examine the technical potential for electric power generation with alternative sources such as wind, solar-photovoltaic, geothermal, solar-thermal, hydroelectric, and other renewable resources. The panel will also consider the broader energy applications of renewables, especially low-temperature solar applications that may reduce electricity demands. The panel will evaluate technologies based on their estimated times to initial commercial deployment and will provide the following information for each:

  • Initial deployment times <10 years: costs, performance, and impacts

  • 10 to 25 years: barriers, implications for costs, and R&D challenges/needs

  • >25 years: barriers and R&D challenges/needs, especially basic research needs.

The primary focus of the study will be on the quantitative characterization of technologies with initial deployment times <10 years. The panel will focus on those renewable resources that show the most promise for initial commercial development within a decade leading to substantial impact on the U.S. energy system, as well as consider the potential use of such technologies globally. In keeping with the charge to the overall scope of the America’s Energy Future Study Committee, the panel will not recommend policy choices, but it will assess the state of development of technologies. In addition to a principal focus on renewable energy technologies for power generation, the panel will address the challenges of incorporating such technologies into the power grid, as well as the potential of improvements in the national electricity grid that could enable better and more extensive use of wind, solar-thermal, solar photovoltaics, and other renewable technologies.

and committed staff of the National Research Council, including K. John Holmes, study director and senior program officer with the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES); Amy Hee Kim, Dorothy Miller, and Stephanie Wolahan, all Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellows; James Zucchetto, director of BEES; Jonathan Yanger and Jason Ortego, senior program assistants; and Peter Blair, executive director of the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences. Richard Sweeney of Resources for the Future also contributed to the economic analysis in Chapter 4 in his role as an unpaid consultant to the panel.

Lawrence T. Papay, Chair
Panel on Electricity from Renewable Resources

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