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Novel Tool Allows Quicker, More Versatile Analysis of Energy Production Technologies

June 19, 2012 - 1:00pm


Washington, DC - A new energy production technology analysis tool that could lead to cost-effective improvements for energy generation and lower costs for consumers is now available on the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) website.

Available at no cost, the Power Systems Life Cycle Analysis Tool (Power LCAT) compares seven energy-production technologies: natural gas combined cycle, integrated gasification combined cycle, existing and supercritical pulverized coal, existing and new nuclear, and onshore wind. An option for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide emissions is also included for each of the fossil fuel technologies.

Policymakers, students, and stakeholders can use the tool, developed by NETL and Sandia National Laboratories, to consider the entire lifecycle of an energy technology--from raw materials acquisition to final product transport--and will better understand the relationship between the economics and environmental performance of different electricity-production options. NETL is the research laboratory for the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy.

Once loaded onto a user’s computer, the intuitive tool provides tabs that easily guide the user to options and variables that can be adjusted within each of its four main sections:

  • The Production Analysis section calculates the cost of electricity (in dollars per kilowatt hour) for each energy option and allows users to explore key sensitivities, such as capital cost, fuel cost, plant life, and financing.
  • Users can select the Environmental Performance section to estimate aggregate greenhouse gas and non-greenhouse gas emissions, as well as water use at each stage in the lifecycle of electricity production.
  • The Costs vs. Emissions section explores the tradeoffs between costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Sensitivity Analysis section allows simultaneous variation of several assumptions--such as capital costs, operations and fuel costs, interest rates, efficiency, and capacity factors--and provides graphical representation of the results.

A technical guide accompanies Power LCAT and summarizes default assumptions of the tool based on detailed lifecycle analysis studies conducted by NETL. The technical guide also provides a general overview of the model’s operation and provides initial results based on the model’s default assumptions.

Explore Power LCAT