NASA Collaboration Benefits International Priorities of Energy Management
By: Denise M. Stefula

The official launch of the latest version of RETScreen Clean Energy Project Analysis Software was announced by Canada's Environment Minister, John Baird, on Tuesday in Bali, Indonesia, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

RETScreen (Renewable Energy Technology Screen) is a tool developed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) CANMET Energy Technology Centre for renewable energy technologies analysis. New modules also estimate greenhouse gas emission savings relative to conventional systems.

The software can be applied to various clean power, heating and cooling technologies. It is used to evaluate existing or expected energy use, assess potential savings opportunities and then prepare a financial analysis for stand-alone measures or entire facilities as a system.

RETScreen map. Image Above: The RETscreen international database map includes averages of ground-based observations for over 4,700 sites around the world (red dots) and provides estimates for the remainder of cities from the NASA satellite analysis based data sets (blue dots). Data sets from NASA’s analysis can be obtained for any location on the surface of the Earth. Credit: RETscreen International.

That analysis tells decision makers how much energy is produced by a wind turbine, a solar panel, a more efficient gas burner or a small capacity hydro plant. And it can also provide what those systems will cost and estimate the return on investment for financing.

"What RETScreen does is it basically helps you make a decision. Should I put in this solar wall or not? And RETScreen, in a nutshell, will help you determine that," says Greg Leng, RETScreen section head with NRCan.

The software uses NASA's global climate data as part of its analysis tools. NASA Langley has been working with the NRCan team of government, industry and academic representatives on what has become an international success story.

“In recent months, we have expanded and improved NASA’s base climate data set to 22 years, providing data parameters, including weather and solar energy tailored right to the needs of RETScreen,” says Paul Stackhouse, leader of a NASA project that prepares climate data sets especially for RETScreen at Langley Research Center. “These data sets result from scientific research funded through NASA projects at Langley and other centers.”

NRCan provides the software free to industry and the public. Already, RETScreen is used by more than 129,000 people, such as architects, planners, investors and industry decision makers. Hundreds of those accounts are in the United States.

With the newest version including energy efficiency measures and the translation of the analysis modules into 26 languages, the demand for RETScreen is expected to increase substantially.

"This new version of RETScreen is going to dramatically improve how public and private stakeholders develop energy efficiency, cogeneration and renewable energy projects around the globe," said Marianne Osterkorn, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership's international director.

NASA Langley Research Center
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor and Responsible NASA Official: H. Keith Henry
Editor and Curator: Denise Adams