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Manufacturing Clean Energy Blog

Manufacturing Clean Energy is the official blog of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center (CEMAC). It features insights from CEMAC staff, partners, and guests. To contribute to Manufacturing Clean Energy, contact us.

Report Shows Standardized Geothermal Turbines Could Reduce Plant Capital Costs

October 23, 2018

Line graph showing turbine efficiency, gross turbine power, and net plant power percentages with working fluid mass flowrate ratio.

Currently, the geothermal turbine market is driven by developer demand for plant efficiency and consists of custom turbines designed specifically for the varying conditions at different geothermal fields. Read more.

Report Explores Key Supply Chains and Advanced Manufacturing of Small Hydropower Systems

August 31, 2018

By Parthiv Kurup

Map showing where hydropower system’s key components are manufactured.

We can happily report the final CEMAC report is published! This project analyzed the small hydropower (SHP) market, including the tradeflows, detailed costs, and potential markets, to help determine the status and opportunities along the supply chain. Read more.

Are there enough materials to cover li-ion batteries?

August 15, 2018

By Ahmad Mayyas, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Map showing the global production of lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, and graphite.

This blog is an updated version of the 2016 blog we published about li-ion battery raw materials.

Read more.

How will the new PV safeguard tariffs affect my company?

March 28, 2018

By Debbie Sandor, CEMAC Project Leader

Figure showing four steps of supply chains for crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules.

Like most policy questions, it depends on who you ask. Does your company manufacture crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV modules domestically or outside the United States? Does it produce polysilicon for export? Or does it focus on photovoltaic (PV) module installation? And what if your company manufactures cadmium telluride (CdTe) or other types of PV modules and cells? These are just a handful of the stakeholder perspectives the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) considered as it evaluated the need and developed recommendations for the new tariffs.

Read more.

Currency Fluctuations and Trade

February 23, 2018

By David Keyser, CEMAC Analyst

Chart showing the U.S. balance of trade increasing and China generally decreases.

We hear about currency fluctuations and its possible impact on trade in the business news frequently.

Economic theory indicates that prices and consumption are linked. When prices are low, people usually buy more of a desired good than when prices are high. Part of a price includes the value of the currency with which it is purchased. For example, if the U.S. dollar is less expensive relative to the currency of the trading partner, that partner can use less of their money to purchase goods or services from the United States. Conversely, if the dollar is more expensive they must use more of their currency. (There are many articles published about this topic, including How the Dollar Impacts Commodity Prices.)

Read more.

Report Examines Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Opportunities in Power Electronics

January 25, 2018—Oak Ridge National Laboratory, funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office, recently published a new CEMAC report that explores the Wide Bandgap Power Electronics market, applications, and potential energy savings that could be realized by the next generation of semiconductors. The study identifies key areas where further resources and investments of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy could have a positive impact on U.S. competitiveness. After considering the current market, the authors identified several potential near-term application areas as having significant market and energy savings potential with respect to clean energy applications:

  • Data centers (uninterruptible power supplies and server power supplies)
  • Renewable energy generation (photovoltaic-solar and wind)
  • Motor drives (industrial, commercial and residential)
  • Rail traction, and
  • Hybrid and electric vehicles (traction and charging).

After the initial explorative analyses, it became clear that SiC is positioned to be the principal wide bandgap power device material for the chosen markets in the near future. Access the report.

CEMAC Authors Examine System Dynamics of Polysilicon for PV in Sustainability Journal

January 18, 2018—CEMAC recently teamed up with Lexidyne, LLC and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth to publish a new article in the Sustainability journal, System Dynamics of Polysilicon for Solar Photovoltaics: A Framework for Investigating the Energy Security of Renewable Energy Supply Chains.

The article examines high-purity polysilicon, a key material in solar photovoltaics, that has experienced significant price fluctuations, affecting the manufacturing capacity and cost of both polysilicon and solar panels. CEMAC developed and validated an initial system dynamics framework to gain insights into global trade in polysilicon. The model represents an initial framework for exploration. Three regions were modeled—China, the United States, and the rest of the world—for a range of trade scenarios to understand the impacts of import duties and non-price drivers on the relative volumes of imports and domestic supply. Read the journal article.

A Win for Global Value Chain and Manufacturing Analysis on Geothermal Power Plant Turbines

January 4, 2018

By Sertaç Akar, CEMAC Analyst

Award certificate with the Geothermal Resources Council logo near the top,  and award text reading GRC Best Presentation Award.

To understand more about the opportunities to improve and expand the geothermal power market, CEMAC developed a manufacturing analysis methodology of geothermal power plant turbines including materials, manufacturing equipment, machining process and cost model. We presented our case study findings at the Geothermal Resources Council annual meeting—the world's largest annual geothermal energy event—and were surprised to learn afterward that we won a Best Presentation Award.

Read more.

Workshop: The Future's Bright for Oil & Gas and Renewables

October 26, 2017

By Jill Engel-Cox, CEMAC Director

Photo of business people wearing sunglasses and suits standing in dark room

Can the oil and gas industry work with renewable energy industry to bring about a clean energy future? That question was the basis for the recent workshop on the Nexus of Oil & Gas and Renewables in the Energy Future held at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and sponsored by the International Energy Agency (IEA)'s Gas and Oil Technologies Collaboration Program (GOTCP).

Read more.

Innovation clusters and their influence on manufacturing

September 18, 2017

By Derek Hill, NSF, and Jill Engel-Cox, CEMAC Director

A three-part image shows the three major technologies described in the report: a wind farm, an ethanol plant behind a corn field, and solar panels on top of a building at NREL.

In our latest report, we explore the link between innovation clusters and manufacturing. We examined several case studies of innovation clusters for three different clean energy technologies: solar PV clusters in California and the province of Jiangsu in China, wind turbine clusters in Germany and the U.S. Great Lakes region, and ethanol clusters in the U.S. Midwest and the state of São Paulo in Brazil. Learn more about our findings on the CEMAC blog.

Read more.

Systems Analysis of Manufacturing Supply Chains

August 8, 2017

By James McCall, CEMAC Analyst

A diagram maps the flow of material across several clean energy manufacturing industries. The diagram begins with raw materials, such as silica, steel, and polyethylene, on the left, and progresses through types of processed materials, components, products, and technologies, to end on clean energy ecosystems on the right. The diagram illustrates how some materials, such as steel, flow into many products, while others, such as cobalt, are more limited.

Despite the recent boom in advanced clean energy technologies, little work has been done to understand the complexities and interconnections within these technologies' supply chains. New work by CEMAC strives to capture the materials, products, supply chains, and their linkages across the clean energy manufacturing landscape. We are now seeking partners and sponsors to help us expand this analysis.

Read more.

Report Compares International Carbon Fiber Manufacturing

July 6, 2017—Global demand for carbon fiber is projected to grow 10% per year between 2015 and 2024, but it is not clear where new manufacturing facilities will locate to meet this demand. A new CEMAC report examines some of the policy and manufacturing factors that will shape the growth of the global carbon fiber industry.

Carbon Fiber Manufacturing Facility Siting and Policy Considerations: International Comparison examines aspects related to carbon fiber manufacturing in today's top producing countries. The report also reviews various metrics of manufacturing location decisions such as costs of labor and energy, as well as policies directed at supporting carbon fiber development, domestic deployment, and exports. Finally, the report concludes with a discussion of various policy options that may encourage new carbon fiber manufacturers to locate in certain jurisdictions and foster broader end-use markets for deployment.

Piecing Together the Fragments: the Importance of Independent Supply Chain Analysis to Private Industry

June 21, 2017

By Steven Freilich, Vice-Chair CEMAC Advisory Committee, DuPont (emeritus)

An image shows a few fragmented pieces of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, showing black ink scrawled on tattered parchment.

CEMAC's Benchmarks of Global Clean Energy Manufacturing is a tour de force of data collection and unbiased interpretation from honest brokers. It demonstrates the importance of independent analysis for private industry, which is often difficult for those industries to accomplish on their own.

Read more.

New Report Explores Methods behind Benchmarks of Global Clean Energy Manufacturing

June 5, 2017—In January 2017, CEMAC released a first-of-its-kind report to benchmark the economic impacts of global clean energy manufacturing. Now, a new report details the methodologies underlying the analysis and insights presented in Benchmarks of Global Clean Energy Manufacturing.

CEMAC Clean Energy Manufacturing Benchmark Report: Framework and Methodologies documents the methodologies used to develop and report four global clean energy manufacturing benchmarks—value added, trade flows, demand, and manufacturing capacity and production.

CEMAC analysts designed the standardized, but flexible, framework and methodologies to enable consistent comparison of a wide range of clean energy technologies and their manufacturing supply chains. Specifically, the new methodology report lays out the criteria and framework for selecting and benchmarking clean energy technologies, describes the CEMAC benchmark analysis methodologies, and discusses the application of the methodologies to the manufacturing of the four specific clean energy technologies included in Benchmarks of Global Clean Energy Manufacturing.

When Comparing Costs of Automotive Lithium-Ion Batteries, Know the Context

May 30, 2017

By Emma Elgqvist, CEMAC Analyst

A photo shows several electric vehicles parked in a parking garage.

When comparing the costs of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, understanding the context is crucial. In the latest CEMAC blog, analyst Emma Elgqvist compares modeled and market prices for Li-ion batteries and observes that market factors—not manufacturing costs—are currently influencing pricing decisions. It's all based on a recent factsheet develop for the Department of Energy.

Read more.

Wind Turbines Made in the USA

April 18, 2017

By Parthiv Kurup and Timothy Remo, CEMAC Analysts

A map of utility-scale wind component manufacturing in the United States show majors concentrations of facilities in the Great Lakes and Midwest regions, with a few other clusters e.g. in Colorado and Texas.

The wind industry in the United States is growing rapidly, supported by a large domestic manufacturing sector. Now, manufacturers are seeking new ways to make their turbines bigger and more efficient. What role could additive manufacturing play in the future of the American wind energy industry? In this blog, CEMAC analysts highlight the state of U.S. wind manufacturing and how new advanced manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing could change it.

Read more.

SiC-based Motor Drives: Manufacturing the Next Generation of Industrial Energy Savings

April 12, 2017

By Kelsey Horowitz, Timothy Remo, and Samantha Reese, CEMAC Analysts

A silicon-carbide wafer reflects light in a rainbow of colors.

Silicon-carbide power electronics aren't just the next generation of energy savings in industrial motors and motor drives. They're a great, high-tech manufacturing opportunity. But where will this opportunity materialize? In this blog, CEMAC analysts break down the most competitive regions for silicon-carbide manufacturing, as presented in our latest report. And they look to the future, exploring the potential impacts of new innovations in silicon-carbide power electronics.

Read more.

Photovoltaics Made in the USA

March 27, 2017

by Sadie Fulton, CEMAC analyst

A map of solar manufacturing capacity in the United States reveals major manufacturing clusters in the Northwest and Great Lakes regions.

The American solar photovoltaic market is dynamic and rapidly growing. In 2016, the U.S. solar industry installed 14.8 gigawatts (GW) of solar, a 97% increase over the capacity installed in 2015. Solar's growth trajectory and increasing market share continue to excite electricity producers and consumers alike. Yet, despite this success, PV manufacturing is not an industry for the faint of heart.

Read more.

Four Benchmarks We Use to Measure Clean Energy Manufacturing

February 27, 2017

By Debbie Sandor, Project Leader of CEMAC Benchmark report

An image of the Earth from space, crisscrossed by lines, is the cover image of the Benchmarks of Clean Energy Manufacturing report.

Benchmarks of Global Clean Energy Manufacturing—CEMAC's flagship report—is a first-of-its-kind effort to isolate and quantify the economic impacts of the clean energy manufacturing sector. The report establishes a baseline picture of where clean energy technologies are manufactured around the world, so we can track the development of the sector over the coming years.

Read more.

CEMAC Establishes Benchmarks for Measuring Global Clean Energy Manufacturing

January 17, 2017—Larger economies such as the United States and Japan, with more extensive domestic manufacturing supply chains and higher prevailing wages, tend to retain more value added from clean energy manufacturing than smaller economies, according to CEMAC's recently released Benchmarks of Global Clean Energy Manufacturing. The first-of-its-kind analysis can help industry and policymakers gain deeper understanding of global manufacturing of clean energy technologies. CEMAC also released interactive tools for exploring the data. Find the tools, full report, and summaries of findings here.