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10.19.2022

Refining the Model: Optimizing a Microgrid

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As a full solution distributed energy provider, EnTech Solutions has the benefit of being your energy partner from initial concept all the way to the operation and maintenance (O&M) of your microgrid. When we start the designing process in our Energy DNA™ software, we run multiple iterations of energy production and energy storage scenarios to support your overall energy needs. Each of these energy sources and resources can be attached to a lot of assumptions. We approach these estimates with the best data we can find; solar production is based on 30 years of historical weather data in your area, facility energy usage is based on recent years of energy information, and the remaining resources are based on our products and controls. We then forecast usage and solar production to design the best system for your energy needs.

All of this preparation allows us to put our best foot forward in the modeling process; however, as facilities and microgrid systems continue to operate, a lot tends to change. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a facility’s energy usage increases, on average, about 2% per year. This results in significantly more energy needed 5, 10 or 20 years after a system is implemented and can impact savings, resiliency and sustainability goals. Equipment can also degrade over time, though typically this is less than 1% per year and is safeguarded by product warranties. Another change is that technologies can start to become cheaper as they become more heavily manufactured. Solar panels, for example, are less than 10% of the cost they were 10 years ago. This same curve can happen with batteries and other elements of a microgrid.

One of the biggest changes we are currently seeing is with utility rates and tariffs. Historically over the last 40 years, electricity rates have gone up 3% annually. Last year, most utilities increased rates more than 10%, and requests are already being sent in for another 10+% increase this coming year. These types of changes are less predictable over a long period of time, especially with the current energy market trends.

This is where EnTech Solutions’ O&M package can provide great value. We can re-run models in Energy DNA with future changes in utility rates and long-term facility needs and create a design that gives the best benefit for these future energy needs. This optimization process can happen months, years or decades after a system is installed. We can look at what adding more battery storage, adding more solar, adding EV charging, etc., may look like on your system. We will compare the costs of these changes to the impacts on utility bills, resiliency or sustainability and determine the return on investment (ROI). This process can be continued regularly throughout the life of your system.

In addition to being able to optimize microgrid systems in the future that we install today, we also continue to optimize our modeling tools as market trends shift, with the ability to build new functionality as needed for years to come. This will enable EnTech to remain on the leading edge of energy innovation.

Reach out today to get started on your path to cleaner energy and see the benefits EnTech Solutions can offer.