CLEAN ENERGY PROJECT ANALYSIS WITH RETSCREEN SOFTWARE

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1 Training Module SPEAKER S NOTES CLEAN ENERGY PROJECT ANALYSIS WITH RETSCREEN SOFTWARE CLEAN ENERGY PROJECT ANALYSIS COURSE This document provides a transcription of the oral presentation (Voice & Slides) for this training module and it can be used as speaker's notes. The training material is available free-of-charge at the RETScreen International Clean Energy Decision Support Centre Website: SLIDE 1: Clean Energy Project Analysis with RETScreen Software This presentation outlines the RETScreen 5-step process for investigating the feasibility of a potential clean energy project. Slide 1 SLIDE 2: Objectives This presentation has three objectives: first, to illustrate the role of preliminary feasibility studies in clean energy projects; second, to demonstrate how the RETScreen software works; and third, to show how RETScreen makes it easier to help identify & assess potential projects. Slide 2 SLIDE 3: Energy Project Implementation Process Energy projects typically proceed through a series of stages. The process starts with a prefeasibility study, which determines, quickly and approximately, whether a project may be technically feasible and financially attractive: in short, whether it merits further attention. If it does, then a feasibility analysis, involving a more careful study and more effort spent on estimates of costs and benefits, is done. If the project still makes sense, the design and engineering is executed, and, for larger projects, financing is sought and permits procured. Finally, the project is constructed and put into operation. Slide 3

2 RETScreen International SLIDE 3: Energy Project Implementation Process (cont.) In the mid-1990 s, it was observed that while there were tools available to assist in the engineering stages of clean energy projects, little attention was being paid to involving clean energy technologies early in the process. Unfortunately, if the possibility of applying a clean energy technology is not considered at the earliest stages of the project, it is unlikely that it will be possible to add it in later on. RETScreen International is focused on overcoming this barrier and building a foundation for sustainable development. SLIDE 4: Questions During the early stages of a project, there are two conflicting objectives: first, to estimate the project costs and benefits sufficiently accurately such that a decision can be made as to whether it should be pursued, and, second, to minimize the expenditure of time and money so as to avoid losses if the project turns out to be unviable. Slide 4 SLIDE 5: The Accuracy vs. Investment Cost Dilemma This dilemma was illustrated by a retrospective study of built hydropower projects conducted for the World Bank. Initially, estimates of final costs were fairly inaccurate, but also fairly inexpensive. As the project progressed, accuracy improved, but only with the investment of further resources. Prefeasibility studies for these major projects predicted final costs to within 40 or 50%; only when engineering was approaching completion and tenders being solicited did estimates attain accuracy within 10%. Slide 5 SLIDE 6: When should clean energy technologies be assessed? What situations bode well for a clean energy project? In short, any time there is a need for a system that generates heat, power, or cooling, efficiency measures and renewable energy systems should be considered. If the system will be in a building, it will be easiest to incorporate the clean energy technology at the time that the building is being built or during a major renovation. The project will be most attractive when conventional energy costs are high. Since clean energy technologies may encounter resistance due to people s unfamiliarity with them, the project stakeholders should demonstrate keen interest and strong commitment; furthermore, it should be verified early on the process of procuring permits and approvals will not be too onerous. Clean energy technologies tend to have high initial costs, so funding and financing must be available. And, for renewable energy systems, the availability of a good energy resource should trigger a prefeasibility assessment. Slide 6 Page 2 of 8

3 Clean Energy Project Analysis with RETScreen Software Training Module SLIDE 7: Project Viability (Wind Example) Depends on Several Factors The viability of a project is influenced by numerous factors that must enter the prefeasibility and feasibility studies. Obviously, a renewable energy project will be influenced by the abundance of the available energy resource, for example, the wind speed in the case of a wind power project. But energy efficiency measures as well as RE technologies will be affected by the equipment performance (such as the wind turbine power curve); the initial project costs; any base case credits stemming from conventional system costs avoided through the use of the clean energy technology, ongoing and periodic project costs, and further factors, considered on the following slide. Slide 7 SLIDE 8: Project Viability (Wind Example) Depends on Several Factors cont. Project viability depends on factors beyond those on the previous slide. One of the most important is the avoided cost of energy, that is, the per unit value of energy produced by the project or energy consumption avoided by the project. For example, for a wind project developer, the avoided cost of energy would be the price at which the turbine output can be sold. For a biomass heating system, it would be the price of conventional heating fuel, such as natural gas. The characteristics of the available financing, such as the ratio of debt to equity, the time period over which debt will be repaid, and the interest rate are also critical to financial viability. Taxes on equipment and income or savings need to be considered. The environmental attributes of the conventional energy being displaced can also have an influence: a project will generate more green benefits if it displaces, for example, dirty coal generation than if it reduces natural gas consumption. If some of these green benefits can earn revenue for the project proponent, through higher greenpower rates for power sales, greenhouse gas credits, or subsidies, these must be included in the analysis. All these considerations must be distilled into an assessment that permits the project proponent to determine whether the project is financially attractive. And since different decision-makers have different definitions of costeffectiveness there is no universal right answer; for some a certain payback period must be respected, for others the internal rate of return must exceed a particular hurdle. A third party may wish to express project viability as an energy production cost. Clearly, assessing project viability involves many considerations. Slide 8 SLIDE 9: Why use RETScreen? RETScreen directly addresses the accuracy versus investment cost dilemma. It assists the user, at the very earliest stages of the project to quickly and simply assess whether the potential for a clean energy project is sufficiently promising to merit further investigation or even engineering and development work. It takes into consideration all the factors discussed on the previous two slides and performs a life-cycle cost analysis, thus ensuring a just comparison between clean energy technologies and their conventional competitors. By streamlining the process, it encourages the widespread consideration of clean energy technologies, leading to a larger number of successful projects. Slide 9 Page 3 of 8

4 RETScreen International SLIDE 10: RETScreen Validation - Examples Another strength of RETScreen compared with ad hoc or custom analyses is the assurance that the underlying model is accurate and properly implemented. This has been achieved through extensive validation. For example, all models have been validated by comparison with data from the equipment manufacturer, built projects, advanced simulation tools, or all three. Slide 10 SLIDE 11: RETScreen Software Demonstration (Wind Energy Project Model Example) A tour of the RETScreen software will give a good idea of some of its capabilities and how it is used. This slide provides an overview of the five-step RETScreen approach. First an energy model is used to determine the energy benefits of the project under consideration, compared to a conventional alternative. Second, the additional costs of the clean energy project are evaluated. Third, an optional greenhouse gas (GHG) analysis calculates the emissions reductions associated with the project. Fourth, a financial summary page indicates whether the project is financially attractive. And fifth, sensitivity and risk analysis sheets reveal how changes in inputs affect the viability of the project. Slide 11 SLIDE 12: Demonstration (continued): Integrated Resources Here is the energy model page, with drop down menus selected to show the range of RETScreen resources available. An Online User Manual, Product and Weather Database, and Web-based materials, all available from within the software, are there to assist the user. Slide 12 SLIDE 13: Demonstration (continued): Cell Color Coding RETScreen cells are conveniently color coded so that the user can immediately identify where data must be entered and where results are presented. SLIDE 14: Demonstration (continued): Online User Manual Slide 13 The software includes an extensive Online Manual. Clicking on the help icon opens a window that provides information on the currently selected cell. Slide 14 Page 4 of 8

5 Clean Energy Project Analysis with RETScreen Software Training Module SLIDE 15: Demonstration (continued): Product Database RETScreen includes a vast Product Database that helps the user specify the operational characteristics of the clean energy technology. Here a large-scale wind turbine is being selected. SLIDE 16: Demonstration (continued): Cost Analysis Worksheet Slide 15 The user enters all relevant costs associated with the project in the cost sheet. When costs are known only roughly, a prefeasibility version of the cost sheet, lumping costs into major groupings, can be used. When the costs need to be treated on an item-by-item basis, a feasibility version of the cost sheet provides a comprehensive list of costs that may need to be considered. Costs are expressed in the currency specified by the user, and RETScreen even permits the user to enter costs in two different currencies. This is useful for international projects and projects where a significant proportion of the equipment is imported. The user supplies a currency conversion factor that converts costs in the second currency back to the primary currency. The cost sheet includes a suggested range of values for most project costs. Slide 16 SLIDE 17: Demonstration (continued): Weather Database RETScreen includes an Online Weather Database with environmental conditions from literally thousands of ground-based meteorological stations around the world. This is used for determining both the available renewable energy resource and the climate in which building projects will function. When the user has selected the most suitable meteorological station, the Paste Data button will automatically place the data in the appropriate cells in the RETScreen Model. Slide 17 SLIDE 18: Demonstration (continued): NASA Database For those sites where there is no ground-based meteorological station, RETScreen has a custom NASA database of satellite-derived information on surface meteorological conditions, available through the Internet. Slide 18 SLIDE 19: Demonstration (continued): NASA Database In the NASA database, the user selects a location by clicking on a map of the planet or by entering a longitude and latitude. Slide 19 Page 5 of 8

6 RETScreen International SLIDE 20: Demonstration (continued): NASA Database Clicking on a point on the globe causes the globe to be drawn with the selected point at the center of the view. Here a site in southern Argentina has been selected. SLIDE 21: Demonstration (continued): NASA Database Slide 20 The user can zoom in on the selected area to pinpoint the location of interest. SLIDE 22: Demonstration (continued): NASA Database Slide 21 Once the site has been selected, the user specifies the type of meteorological information that is desired. SLIDE 23: Demonstration (continued): NASA Database Slide 22 For a wind energy project, for example, the database provides monthly average wind speeds, temperatures, and average atmospheric pressures. The user can enter this data into RETScreen as-is, without unit conversions or other adjustments. Slide 23 SLIDE 24: RETScreen Software Financial Analysis Method Fundamental to RETScreen s approach is a comparison of a conventional technology and a proposed clean energy technology. The absolute costs and benefits of the clean energy technology are not necessarily considered; rather, the incremental costs and benefits, compared to the conventional technology, are evaluated. For example, a solar air heating system providing preheated ventilation air to a natural gas fired heater could be compared to a base case of, for instance, the same building with conventional siding and natural gas heating only. Slide 24 SLIDE 25: Software Demo 20 MW Wind Energy Project Over the course of the next 5 slides, we will see how RETScreen can be used to investigate the role of various variables for one particular project. This is a proposed 20 MW wind farm located just outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The project is initially very unattractive; we examine how these variables would need to change in order for this project to be financially viable. You can download the complementary PDF file Software Demo: Wind Energy Project (Scenarios 1 & 2) and input the data into the RETScreen Wind Energy Project Model to follow along. Slide 25 Page 6 of 8

7 Clean Energy Project Analysis with RETScreen Software Training Module SLIDE 26: Software Demo Scenario 1 Intially the project has an internal rate of return of 7.1% and a simple payback period of 42.7 years. The cashflow graph, integral to RETScreen, is negative throughout the life of the project. SLIDE 27: Software Demo Wind Speed & GHG Emission Reduction Slide 26 If the proposed project is moved to a site with a better wind regime - note that the wind speed is now 7.0 m/s compared to 4.4 m/s before - the project improves markedly, and the greenhouse gas emission reduction increases. One can thus see the influence of the wind speed on the greenhouse gas emission reduction. The project is still not profitable, however. Slide 27 SLIDE 28: Software Demo Wind Turbine Cost On the other hand, if the turbines are available at $1,000/kW, the project is marginally attractive. The user could enter this cost directly into the cost sheet, or utilize the sensitivity analysis sheet to investigate the influence of the initial costs on the project s profitability, as measured by the internal rate of return, net present value, or payback on equity. In this way, the user could determine the relative importance of the initial costs, compared with other project variables. Slide 28 SLIDE 29: Software Demo RE Production Credit If the wind project qualified for an Renewable Energy production credit of 2.5 cents per kwh, the IRR would be nearly 20% a good return. SLIDE 30: Software Demo GHG Emissions Credit Slide 29 If the GHG emissions credit increases to $5/ton, the project becomes slightly more attractive. This shows how RETScreen can help the user to determine the impact of, for example, selling credits to a utility or trading them on an exchange. Slide 30 Page 7 of 8

8 RETScreen International SLIDE 31: Software Demo Debt Term If the debt term is increased to 15 years, the project becomes yet more attractive. This example has shown how RETScreen can be used to investigate the influence of five variables - the wind resource, the equipment costs, the renewable energy production credit, the greenhouse gas emission reduction credit, and the debt term - on the financial viability and greenhouse gas emissions of a potential project. It could be similarly used to examine the role of a host of other variables the user controls within RETScreen. It would reveal which were the most important, and which combinations of values for these variables would be required for an attractive project. Slide 31 SLIDE 32: Questions? This concludes the presentation of Clean Energy Project Analysis with RETScreen software. This Introductory course continues in further modules, however; please proceed to the presentation Greenhouse Gas Emission Analysis with RETScreen Software. Slide 32 Page 8 of 8

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