Innovation modeling helps identify where distributed energy resources could bring the most value to the grid, informing new compensation mechanisms
Distributed energy resources (DER) such as rooftop solar or energy storage could bring great value to the evolving grid. Because these systems can be located near demand, they can help meet local energy, capacity and resilience needs. However, DER incentives are not granular enough to compensate for their “location value,” or when and where they bring the most value to the network.
Studying the location value of the DER has been difficult due to changing grid conditions and lack of site-specific data. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has advanced traditional DER assessments by adding new functionality to its Distributed Generation Market Demand (dGen) model that calculates the potential value of distributed solar and wind systems down to the plot. individual properties for an entire region.
Evaluate DER location value and parcel-level location availability, as described in a recent Energy policy articlecan help network planners determine the most effective DER incentives, align customer behavior with power system needs, and move toward clean energy goals.
Parcel Innovation provides much-needed granularity
Location availability, quality of wind and solar resources, utility territory and associated retail rates, and policies can all impact the location value of DERs. It is therefore important to study location value at the most detailed level, especially in urban and suburban settings.
Most studies of DER location value to date have relied on some degree of aggregation or assessment of wind and solar potential based on a group of sites. This approach, however, can overlook the unique benefits of individual plots and provide an incomplete picture of distributed generation’s potential to impact the power system.
To advance traditional modeling approaches, NREL has developed a new high-resolution dataset of property information for each plot in an entire region. Then, rather than aggregating a group of plots, NREL developed a new dGen capability that evaluates location availability and location value for each unique plot.
“Our parcel-level DER analysis advances wind and solar siting and appraisal assessments by exploring these systems in an unprecedented level of detail,” said Thomas Bowen, NREL Energy Analyst and Principal Investigator of the study. . “This approach allows us to explore trends by land use type, end-use sector and geography. .”
Case studies using Parcel innovation
NREL applied the parcel-level modeling approach to potential distributed solar and wind systems behind and in front of the meter for each parcel of property in New York State, where the New State Public Service Commission York was the first to launch new compensation mechanisms for DERs.
As modeled, DERs located in vacant lots, condos, and single-family homes in southeastern New York territories (e.g., Long Island Public Authority, Orange and Rockland Utilities, and Consolidated Edison) could provide part of the highest value for the grid.
dGen also shows that strategically located DERs in specific locations in New York State could bring significant value to the grid by reducing the need for transmission and distribution upgrades, such as in New York where there are many demand but not enough transmission to provide energy. DERs in these locations would be better compensated under New York State’s innovative Distributed Energy Resource Value (VDER) framework. Compared to less granular DER compensation mechanisms like net energy metering, the VDER framework would more compensate distributed generation in high-value areas.
Notably, however, dGen also shows that DER compensation would, overall, be lower with the VDER framework compared to the net energy measurement. Although net energy metering may not offset the locational value of DER, it has effectively increased the deployment of DER in many jurisdictions. Stakeholders can decide to include additional value streams for DERs as part of more granular compensation approaches such as VDER to drive deployment based on local policy priorities.
NREL also applied the parcel-level approach to distributed wind sites in the recent study on the future of distributed wind energy. The data included actual dimensions for 150 million property parcels in the United States to size distributed wind turbines for these locations. The results showed that distributed wind could supply more than half of the current electricity consumption in the United States today.
“As DER adoption continues to grow, we need much more granular compensation mechanisms that can accurately communicate the complex value of DERs and adjust based on when and where electricity is provided,” Bowen said. “It’s exciting to see innovation taking place to align DER deployment and operation with power system needs, and for us to be able to support that planning with smarter, more sophisticated DER analysis.”
Improve your distribution planning
Are you looking for a partner to model and assess the future impacts of RED in your region? Contact NREL’s dGen team today to find out how they can customize the model to your needs.
Learn more about NREL Energy Analysis Research.