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NREL Partners with California to Accelerate Advanced Energy Communities

June 1, 2016

The California Energy Commission has selected NREL to be part of a team that will complete a major applied research project to accelerate the deployment of Advanced Energy Communities (AEC).

Team members also include the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), the City of Huntington Beach, and Altura Associates, Inc.

NREL will use advanced analytics expertise to enhance its master planning platform, URBANopt, which is based on the U.S. Department of Energy's open source building energy modeling platform (i.e., OpenStudio and EnergyPlus).

Together with funding from Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas companies, the team will receive $1.9 million to develop and apply master community design tools and to integrate innovative, high efficiency and sustainable energy technologies into a Huntington Beach community.  The project will become an example and blueprint for the entire state of California regarding how communities can be revitalized, become more sustainable, and lower energy costs.

 In this project the team will integrate and optimize promising new energy innovations into a unified system that efficiently interacts with the existing community electrical grid/infrastructure/buildings, serves various end-uses, obtains performance data for scale-up, and performs cost-benefit analyses for demonstrating economic feasibility. 

The technologies that will be integrated in the AEC project include the following:

  • Energy efficiency measures (EEM) to increase the energy efficiency and reduce energy (electrical and gas) usage and emissions
  • Renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and anaerobic digestion of organic waste
  • Energy storage systems for electric, thermal and chemical energy storage to complement the intermittent renewable energy
  • Electric vehicles (EV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) with EV charging FCEV fueling infrastructure
  • Modernization of electric utility infrastructure, natural gas infrastructure, and natural and renewable gas resources in the community
  • Zero energy community design concepts
  • Zero emissions backup power (hydrogen fuel cells) for critical loads
  • High-temperature fuel cell systems for direct use of local renewable fuel to produce power, heating, and or cooling
  • Smart energy management systems for residential, commercial and industrial buildings, and schools and parks within the community
  • Smart-grid technologies such as automated demand response, smart appliances, smart electric vehicle charging systems, and electric energy storage systems in the residences, commercial and industrial buildings.

Visit the NREL website to learn about how NREL's buildings research teams lead efforts in developing cutting-edge technical solutions to improve the energy efficiency of both residential and commercial buildings, communities, and districts. 

—Linh Truong