Accounting Methodology for Source Energy of Non-Combustible Renewable Electricity Generation

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As non-combustible sources of renewable power (wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal) do not consume fuel, the “source” (or “primary”) energy from these sources cannot be accounted for in the same manner as it is for fossil fuel sources. The methodology chosen for these technologies is important as it affects the perception of the relative size of renewable source energy to fossil energy, affects estimates of source-based building energy use, and overall source energy based metrics such as energy productivity. This memo reviews the methodological choices, outlines implications of each choice, summarizes responses to a request for information on this topic, and presents guiding principles for the U.S. Department of Energy, (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to use to determine where modifying the current renewable source energy accounting method used in EERE products and analyses would be appropriate to address the issues raised above.