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Integrated Energy System Simulation

Integrated energy system simulation is an approach in which researchers approach a multi-system energy challenge holistically rather than looking at each of the systems in isolation.

Photo of an NREL researcher presenting in the Energy Systems Integration Facility Control Room.

For example, if the goal is to provide heat and electricity to a group of buildings while reducing natural gas use, integrated energy system simulation is an effective approach to find ways to achieve this goal.

Capabilities

NREL capabilities include co-optimization across multiple energy systems, including:

  • Electric power generation (conventional, hydro, and renewable)
  • Natural gas production, transportation, and use
  • Water production, transportation, and use
  • Hydrogen production, transportation, and use.

These capabilities allow us to perform hydro, thermal, and gas infrastructure investment and resource use coordination for time horizons ranging from sub-hourly (markets and operations) to multi-year (planning).

Projects

NREL is helping Aruba meet its ambitious goal to move to 100% renewable energy. Working closely with the local utility, NREL has used it capability of co-optimizing across multiple energy systems (in this case, electricity, cooling, transportation, and biomass) to identify the least-cost ways to meet the island’s sustainability goals. We’re helping modernize Aruba’s generation system by increasing not only its sustainability but also its reliability.

NREL is working with SoCalGas to explore the feasibility of storing energy that might otherwise be curtailed as chemical energy in the form of carbon-neutral methane. By converting the electricity to methane, energy can be stored for weeks or even months—the system leverages the existing natural gas infrastructure—and used when needed. For example, mid-day in early to late spring, sunshine is abundant, but electric loads are low. This is an ideal time to convert and store energy generated from photovoltaic systems as carbon-neutral methane for use in generating electricity later in the year. Our integrated energy simulation capabilities allow us to optimize the storage and use of energy.

Contact

Greg Stark

Senior Engineer

greg.stark@nrel.gov | 303-384-7485