New ES 300h carries lowest hybrid premium in Lexus line-up: $2,750
Codexis advances discussions in new fuels agreement with Shell for commercializing cellulase enzyme technology

DOE releases new database of cost and performance estimates for electric generation, advanced vehicle, and renewable fuel technologies

TCDB plot of projected total cost of battery-electric vehicles to manufacturers. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a new public database featuring cost and performance estimates for electric generation, advanced vehicle, and renewable fuel technologies. The Transparent Cost Database (TCDB) provides technology cost estimates for companies, utilities, policy makers, consumers, and academics, and can be used to benchmark company costs, model energy scenarios, and inform research and development decisions.

The database, developed by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with funding from the DOE of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, makes it much easier to view the range of estimates for what energy technologies, such as a utility-scale wind farm, rooftop solar installation, biofuel production plant, or an electric vehicle, might cost today or in the future.

TCDB plot of projected total cost of fuel-cell vehicles to manufacturers. Click to enlarge.

The TCDB is part of DOE’s Open Energy Information platform (Open EI). The TCDB provides access to published historical and projected cost targets and performance estimates developed by DOE, in a place that is easy to find and update. The cost data are sourced from published studies and DOE program-planning or budget documents that, while public, were previously difficult to find and collect.

The database currently contains thousands of estimates from more than 100 reports. The estimates and targets in the TCDB are a result of DOE’s road-mapping process for various technologies. The goal of these roadmaps is to guide research and development investments and to define success metrics for a given technology program. The roadmaps used in part to generate the TCDB provide detailed engineering-based estimates of steps to reduce cost and improve performance.

The new database will soon allow experts outside of DOE to contribute reliable new data to continually expand and validate the cost information available to the public. All data will be viewable and downloadable from the Open Energy Information platform,, and arranged so users can see a range of cost and performance numbers, as well as reports on potential improvements.

TCDB is still under development. Users are welcome to submit suggestions for additional functionality to


Henry Gibson

"Lowest cost greenhouse-gas reduction solution; beats wind, solar-PV, fuel cells"

The above is a quote from an advertisement from Capstone Turbine from their website, but is true almost only when co-generation is implemented.

It is also true even though fossil fuel is burned and there is a fuel and carbon cost. The capital cost of solar-PV, hydro, wind and fuel cells is very high, especially where land area is required for collection. These capital costs also have a carbon cost related to manufacturing and construction.

Very high volume production of co-generation systems along with government requirements for them in all buildings, such as exist for CFLs, will force the costs of manufacture low enough to make them acceptable.

Natural gas is a very high value fuel where it is available from pipes. It can be burnt in very high compression efficient engines. When burned as a fuel in a 99%+ efficient home heating boiler, most of the thermodynamic value that can generate electricity is lost. Co-Generation can be considered as free heat with your own electricity generation. Much gas is now burned at central power plants where all of the thermodynamically waste heat is lost, but if all this gas were burned in homes or business buildings much if not almost all of the heat can be used. Sometimes it can even be used to generate more electricity as is also done in combined cycle power plants.

Natural gas is now very cheap because speculators can not deal well with the wasteful flaring of it in most parts of the world where gas pipes do not take it. Even just making carbon black, gas black, from it is considered too complicated. LNG road tankers can reduce much of the loss with small liquifiers at the well and on the tankers.

Natural gas used for co-generation should be priced only slightly higher than gas for central power stations, and the carbon taxes in some places will make the price lower if the incentives do not. It is self evident that the cost of the units and the price of gas and grid electricity must be regulated by law to make the use of the machines possible even if the waste heat is lost whilst power is pumped into the grid. ..HG..


HG, life is not so black and white especialy when we talk about natural gas. Thirst issue - home boilers efficiency is arround 90%. You can check internet on average gas boiler efficiency. Condensing central gas power plant efficiency approaching 60%. On average new gas power plant efficiency 55%. Distributed generation CHP efficiency electrical 40% and overal not exeedig 80%. It depends on heet utilization. Normaly during winter heet is totaly utilized but during summer no heat offtake at all. There are more complicated trigeneration systems designated for cooling but that effects equipmet and maintanance costs.
Second issue - only US NG prices $ 2 BBTU. In Europe we pay $10 and in Asia $20. How long US NG prices will be on south side? Central power plants could swich to other fuel or work covering only peak demands during highest power price time perios. CHP 's has very limited posibilities reackt to power price or gas price fluctuations due to stable heat offtake. Third issue - distributed generation NOx emissions ten fold higher and way closer to the population. Forth issue - in case distributed generator stays conected to the grid (and in most cases it does ) in the end power transmission and distribution costs could not be avoided becouse anyway distribution and transmision services have been provided and reserved transmision and distribution capacity costs almost the same as it would be 100% ultilized therefore if not fair cost reflective tarif in force those costs remain on power utility side and will be as usual covered by other customers as natural monopolies do without wast discusions.


Sundrop is using biomass and natural gas to make synthetic fuels. If they can take 50 cents worth of biomass and 50 cents worth of natural gas to make $3 worth of synthetic liquid fuels, they can make money.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)