NREL Annual Technology
Baseline (ATB)


To help inform electric sector analysis in the United States, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) each year provides both a robust set of modeling input assumptions for energy technologies (the Annual Technology Baseline) and a diverse set of potential futures or energy modeling scenarios (Standard Scenarios).

The NREL Annual Technology Baseline (ATB)—which is documented here—provides a consistent set of technology cost and performance data for NREL analysis. And, the ATB data are freely available for use by others in their energy analysis.

The ATB represents a populated framework to identify technology-specific cost and performance parameters or other investment decision metrics across a range of resource characteristics, sites, or fuel price assumptions for electricity-generation technologies both at present and with projections through 2050. The ATB website includes:

  • A comparison of input assumptions to recent historic trends (which demonstrates the extent to which model inputs represent current state of technology)
  • Projections of future technology cost and performance relative to other published projections (which illustrate results for a variety of sources)
  • Normalization of definitions of variables.

In 2017, for the first time, the ATB will provide a baseline for the transportation sector. The ATB for the transportation sector is due to be released in November 2017.

Utility Perspective

While the 2017 edition of ATB continues to focus on utility-scale electricity generation technologies from the perspective of a utility that procures facilities and generates electricity, distribution-level PV technologies are included. Other distribution-level technologies and storage technologies will be considered in future editions.

The utility perspective is intended to capture the perspectives of investor-owned utilities in regulated markets and the load-serving entity procuring power to support their wholesale and retail customers. It is not intended to represent an emerging business model (e.g., new entrants in the PV industry) where a company manufactures components, constructs electricity generation facilities, and sells electricity.

The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is provided for illustration of the combined effect of the primary cost and performance components—but it is not a focus of—the ATB.

The ATB in 2017

In August 2017, NREL released the 2017 ATB, including the 2017 ATB Cost and Performance Summary of current and projected technology cost and performance data—capacity factor, capital expenditures, fuel cost, operations and maintenance costs, and levelized costs of energy—for 12 generation technologies.