DSIRE & RETScreen – Indispensable Resources for Distributed Renewable Energy Development and Energy-Saving Improvements
According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) (See website here), it is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. We agree and it is “free”. Federal and state financial incentives come in a variety of flavors, including commercial and personal tax credits and deductions, depreciation, property tax exemptions, rebate and loan programs to name a few. There is also information on various policies, energy codes and standards as well as interconnection standards. For a single source which appears to be well-maintained and updated, it is an excellent resource for reviewing, accumulating and assessing the litany of programs which often provide significant financial savings and thus value to your project.
Another fantastic free resource is RETScreen International (RETScreen) (See website here). According to RETScreen, it is a Clean Energy Management Software system for energy efficiency, renewable energy and co-generation project feasibility analysis as well as ongoing energy performance analysis. In our experience, it has provided exceptional information and financial tools to better evaluate the cost-effectiveness of using various technologies in building automation, energy saving improvements and renewable energy. With local utility and building information, the applicable benefits found through DSIRE, RETScreen users can project more accurate proformas and project ROIs by a variety of metrics. The user can then alter one or more variables and/or technologies of the proposed project; then review and compare the differences in efficiency, savings and ROI. Very cool.
Whether your energy project is for yourself or a customer, these tools provide a wealth of information and quite usually savings which in many cases may make or break the feasibility of an energy related project.
Note: The views expressed are solely the opinion of the author.
Image source: Thinkstock via Custom Direct Inc.