U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Tribal Energy Program
Renewable Energy Resource Assessment
The cost effectiveness of renewable energy options depend primarily on 1) the cost of the conventional energy solution, 2) the cost of the renewable energy conversion technology itself, and 3) the quality of the renewable energy resource. Assessing the quality of energy resources is termed "resource assessment." For detailed information on resource assessment, see Assessing Energy Resources.
Tribes that are serious about achieving energy security and independence should investigate all their possible renewable options. Renewable resources are highly localized and vary a great deal throughout the United States. With only a little work, it is probably possible to narrow the field down to two or three options, or maybe just one, allowing your tribe to undertake detailed investigations. The better you understand your resources, the better and more bankable the resulting projects.
Also, with the exception of geothermal energy, all renewable energy resources have significant time dependencies: the sun is available only part of the day, wind often has strong daily and seasonal characteristics, and hydropower and biomass resources are also seasonal. Because of this, renewables are unlikely to be the entire answer to a tribe's energy needs, but they can be a significant, cost-effective part of your energy mix.