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PRECISE: Cutting Costs and Delays for Rooftop PV (Text Version)

This is the text version of a video about the NREL-developed software Preconfiguring & Controlling Inverter Set-Points (PRECISE), which helps utilities identify optimal inverter modes and settings for distributed PV. PRECISE is a standalone system that allows utility engineers to seamlessly interconnect PV generation, significantly cutting the wait time and costs for customers.

Video opens with shots of an installation of a solar parking canopy.

Michael Coddington: So, inverters are used in photovoltaic plants and other distributed energy…

Michael Coddington, Principal Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen.

Michael Coddington: …resources to convert DC power to AC power.

Video cuts to a solar inverter.

Michael Coddington: Now, the smart inverters that we hear so much about today…

Video cuts to a rooftop solar array.

Michael Coddington: …is just an ability to…

Video cuts to a close-up of a rooftop solar array.

Michael Coddington:take advantage of the great capabilities that these devices now have.

Adarsh Nagarajan, Senior Research Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen.

Adarsh Nagarajan: These systems can do a lot of things and choosing what the system should do, it serves as a hard question.

Video cuts to Adarsh and his team working in the lab.

Adarsh Nagarajan: Utilities need a solution, like PRECISE, to identify what these advanced systems should be doing to help their own grid.

Video cuts to an aerial view of a neighborhood with rooftop solar.

Andy Hoke: With the rise of renewable energy and especially, customer-sited renewable energy, some…

Andy Hoke, Senior Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen. 

Andy Hoke: …utilities are seeing, for example, thousands of interconnection applications to install new PV systems per week.

Video cuts to shot of blueprints.

Andy Hoke: And so, all the manual processing that you need to do to get those things interconnected…

Video cuts to two men looking down at blueprints.

Andy Hoke: …in the way that benefits the utility and the customers is a ton of work.

Andy Hoke, Senior Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen.

Andy Hoke: And so, PRECISE is kind of an automated tool that does a lot of that work in a customized fashion without someone having to spend hours on every system to do it.

Video cuts to an aerial view of a neighborhood with rooftop solar.

Dave Brown: The problem was while we have all these opportunities…

Dave Brown, Principal Distribution Systems Engineer at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), appears on-screen.

Dave Brown: …we couldn't staff up to the level that would be necessary to do a custom study that often takes two…

Video cuts to two men assessing a rooftop solar array.

Dave Brown: …or three days for each individual rooftop photovoltaic system that might go in.

Video cuts to an administrative building with rooftop solar.

Dave Brown: So we're looking to a tool that could be integrated into our normal operations…

Dave Brown, Principal Distribution Systems Engineer at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), appears on-screen.

Dave Brown: …and produce these answers more ahead of time for us so we can just…

Aerial view of a neighborhood with rooftop solar.

Dave Brown:present to a customer that they're in a saturated area…

Video cuts to an aerial view of a man installing rooftop solar.

Dave Brown:  …they can accept these settings or these reinforcements to the system…

Dave Brown, Principal Distribution Systems Engineer at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), appears on-screen.

Dave Brown: …and let them make the choice as to whether they want to operate unconstrained and pay for the equipment upgrades…

Video cuts to view of a neighborhood with rooftop solar on the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

Dave Brown:or accept some small constraints and integrate into the system very inexpensively.

Adarsh Nagarajan, Senior Research Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen.

Adarsh Nagarajan: PRECISE works in a way, such that, as and when a homeowner…

Video cuts to an animated graphic, showing how the process starts with an application for interconnection with the utility. Next, a solar panel is mounted on someone’s roof. Finally, the PRECISE tool determines the optimal settings for the solar inverter and energy is generated successfully.

Adarsh Nagarajan: …applies for a new interconnection request, the utility can put in the size of the PV, location of the PV on the tool, and the tool will mention what advanced inverter settings that PV should be taking.

Andy Hoke, Senior Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen.

Andy Hoke: So, a technology like this for optimizing inverter settings, it's potentially scalable nationwide.

Video cuts to a ground-mounted solar array in Oahu, Hawaii.

Andy Hoke: Right now, we're seeing it a lot in places like California and Hawaii…

Video cuts to a close-up shot of a ground-mounted solar array in Oahu, Hawaii.

Andy Hoke: …but we're expecting more and more states to see more people wanting to interconnect solar…

Video cuts to a graphic animation displaying points of light spread across a map of the United States.

Andy Hoke: …and there are gonna need to be tools…

Andy Hoke, Senior Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen. 

Andy Hoke: …to determine how to interconnect those in the optimal ways.

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla, Senior Project Manager at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), appears on-screen.

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla: Hopefully, PRECISE will allow us to set these smart inverter functions to be able to support…

Video cuts to an NREL researcher performing analysis on an inverter, inside of his lab.

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla: …the grid and allow us to actually put more of those…

Video cuts to a close-up shot of an inverter inside of an NREL lab.

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla: …PV systems with the smart inverters…

Video cuts to an aerial view of a neighborhood with rooftop solar.

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla: …on the same circuit so that we don't have to…

Video cuts to a close-up of someone entering their credit card information into a tablet. 

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla: …add additional cost to the customer, and also…

Video cuts to a large home with rooftop solar.

Elaine Sison-Lebrilla: …we wouldn't have to expend additional costs to keep the reliability for this circuit.

Video cuts to an aerial view of a neighborhood with rooftop solar.

Andy Hoke: So, without a tool like PRECISE, we're going to continue to see long interconnection…

Video cuts to an aerial view of a neighborhood of an electrical substation.

Andy Hoke: …queues of people wanting to interconnect PV systems to the grid and we're gonna also continue to see…

Andy Hoke, Senior Engineer at NREL, appears on-screen.

Andy Hoke: …negative impacts of those systems on the grid that the utilities are gonna have to work to try to mitigate. So, PRECISE can both speed up the interconnection process and lower

the interconnection costs.

Final shot of clouds moving quickly above a rooftop with mounted solar panels.  

Text appears onscreen: Learn more: nrel.gov/grid/precise-tool.html

 

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