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REopt Model Expands Into Energy Storage, Resilience, and the Energy-Water Nexus

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Kate Anderson, 303-384-7453

A screenshot of a yellow and orange graph from the REopt software.

The REopt™ model, an NREL-developed platform for energy system integration and optimization, has expanded its reach into new energy frontiers: energy storage, energy resilience, and the energy-water nexus with recent analysis projects for the National Park Service, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Interior.

REopt was recently used to evaluate the operation of the microgrid on Alcatraz Island which had been powered entirely by diesel generators until a solar-diesel-battery hybrid system was installed in 2012. When diesel consumption was still higher than expected, however, the NPS turned to NREL to help understand why. NREL used their REopt model to show that simply preventing the generators from charging the batteries, and instead reserving that capacity for excess PV production, would reduce diesel consumption by 15,000 gallons per year while extending the life of the batteries.

NREL has also been using the REopt modeling platform to help the military achieve greater energy resiliency at its bases, primarily by evaluating the use of renewables and storage that can disconnect from the grid to form a microgrid during outages. A study of an Army base in California found that it could survive an additional 1–4 days by augmenting existing diesel generators with a solar photovoltaic system and energy storage. The study showed that the added resiliency could be achieved at no net cost since the system would reduce energy costs to the facility during normal grid-connected operation.

The REopt team is also looking at opportunities to optimize the synergies between energy and water treatment as part of the energy-water nexus. By considering water treatment plants as dispatchable loads, their operation can be timed to coincide with periods of high solar or wind availability or when grid electricity rates are lower. In collaboration with the US Bureau of Reclamation, NREL added water treatment capabilities to the REopt model and then used it to demonstrate how a remote Alaskan community could operate its potable water treatment plant as a demand response resource, purifying water during periods of high wind.

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Learn more about the REopt tool.