Director's Corner

Release Date: May 24, 2017

NETL’s Vital Energy Analysis Activities


NETL is widely known for its energy research and resulting innovations that help keep the nation powered with greater efficiency. But, our Laboratory has also become known far and wide for its expertise in conducting energy analysis in a range of key areas that help decision makers chart courses for continued success.

For example, recently, we hosted a visit from a subcommittee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)—a non-profit organization representing state public service commissions that regulate the utilities that provide essential services including power.  The commissioners visited to learn all about NETL’s energy research as well as its energy analysis capabilities—support they require as decision makers. NARUC is but one organization with an interest in the analysis services we can help provide.

NETL conducts a variety of energy analyses focused on identifying and evaluating promising research and development (R&D) opportunities that can help the nation pursue balanced solutions for additional economic sustainability, energy supply security, and improved environmental performance. 

We pursue those assignments in key areas such as:

Technology Analysis identifies advanced technologies that, when integrated into an energy conversion facility like a coal-fired power plant, have the greatest potential to achieve advances in efficiency, cost, and emission. Coupling this analysis with computational tools and models supports the design, optimization, scale-up, and troubleshooting of innovative, advanced energy systems.  

Resource Analysisevaluates advanced technology and its impact on resource potential, feasibility, cost, and environmental footprint. Resource topics evaluated include production of the nation’s abundant fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, valuable by-products such as rare earth elements, and the potential to store CO2 in the subsurface. 

Life Cycle Analysis transcends technology and resource analysis and evaluates the environmental, economic, and social attributes of energy systems ranging from the extraction of raw materials from the ground to the use of the energy carrier to perform work—commonly referred to as the “life cycle” of a product.

Energy Markets Analysis evaluates the impact of market dynamics, regulations, and policies on the adoption of current and advanced technologies. NETL customizes and uses a variety of energy-economy forecasting models and economic dispatch models to portray market and policy factors and differing technology assumptions. The result is an understanding of their effects on energy security, cost, reliability, and economic indicators such as employment and income. 

Integrating these four areas of analysis enables better identification, evaluation, and prioritization of R&D concepts at earlier stages while considering broader energy system and market needs and impacts.

I remain proud of NETL’s work in the energy analysis field and look forward to our continuing role in this important area.

As Acting Director of NETL, Sean I. Plasynski, Ph.D., builds on an extensive background in energy as he leads NETL in its mission to enhance the nation’s energy independence and protect the environment for future generations. For more information about Sean Plasynski's experience, please click here.