A new tool is available for building owners and energy managers that will allow them to easily evaluate the costs and benefits of solar photovoltaic and battery storage systems (solar+storage) to power critical building loads when grid outages occur. The newly released features of the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) online solar+storage optimization tool, REopt Lite offer enhanced resilient design capabilities developed in collaboration with Clean Energy Group through its Resilient Power Project.
The tool may also allow managers to bypass the need for industry representatives and expensive consultants, Clean Energy Group says.
REopt Lite is a publicly available solar+storage optimization tool used to determine the sizing of resilient power technologies, which are designed to support critical services that are essential when the power goes out. Recent disasters in places such as Puerto Rico, where widespread outages contributed to devastating loss of life, underscore how important it is to give building owners and emergency planners straightforward tools to evaluate how to make buildings more resilient with solar and battery storage.
The updated version of REopt Lite is meant to help developers and building managers better understand the potential economic and resilience benefits that solar+storage could bring to their buildings to help them determine whether solar+storage makes sense for their facilities.
It also allows users to consider how varying microgrid upgrade costs and avoided outage costs may impact the economics of their system, and to balance what may at times be competing priorities.
The tool is supported with funding from The Kresge Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program and Solar Energy Technologies Office.
Ultimately, says Jessica Boehland, the Kresge Foundation’s senior environment program officer, it will enhance the health, safety, and resilience of communities, particularly in low-income areas where residents have limited options to stay secure during power outages.
“It also will help reduce the carbon emissions driving climate change and extreme weather events,” she adds.
Why Consider Solar+Storage
In addition to reducing demand charges and time-of-use energy rates, solar+storage systems also deliver value by providing power to buildings when the grid goes down, whether by allowing a business to stay open or residents to shelter in place – or, in the case of facilities like medical clinics and emergency shelters, potentially preventing loss of life.
The economic and social costs incurred due to increasingly more frequent and longer-duration power outages can be avoided with properly designed resilient solar+storage systems, the organizations say.