Distributed Energy Resource Optimization Using a Software as Service (SaaS) Approach at the University of California, Davis Campus
Together with OSIsoft LLC as its private sector partner and matching sponsor, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) won an FY09 Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the project is to commercialize Berkeley Lab's optimizing program, the Distributed Energy Resources Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM) using a software as a service (SaaS) model with OSIsoft as its first non-scientific user. OSIsoft could in turn provide optimization capability to its software clients. In this way, energy efficiency and/or carbon minimizing strategies could be made readily available to commercial and industrial facilities. Specialized versions of DER-CAM dedicated to solving OSIsoft's customer problems have been set up on a server at Berkeley Lab. The objective of DER-CAM is to minimize the cost of technology adoption and operation or carbon emissions, or combinations thereof. DER-CAM determines which technologies should be installed and operated based on specific site load, price information, and performance data for available equipment options. An established user of OSIsoft's PI software suite, the University of California, Davis (UCD), was selected as a demonstration site for this project. UCD's participation in the project is driven by its motivation to reduce its carbon emissions. The campus currently buys electricity economically through the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA). The campus does not therefore face compelling cost incentives to improve the efficiency of its operations, but is nonetheless motivated to lower the carbon footprint of its buildings. Berkeley Lab attempted to demonstrate a scenario wherein UCD is forced to purchase electricity on a standard time-of-use tariff from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which is a concern to Facilities staff. Additionally, DER-CAM has been set up to consider the variability of carbon emissions throughout the day and seasons. Two distinct analyses of value to UCD are possible using this approach. First, optimal investment choices for buildings under the two alternative objectives can be derived. Second, a week-ahead building operations forecaster has been written that executes DER-CAM to find an optimal operating schedule for buildings given their expected building energy services requirements, electricity prices, and local weather. As part of its matching contribution, OSIsoft provided a full implementation of PI and a server to install it on at Berkeley Lab. Using the PItoPI protocol, this gives Berkeley Lab researchers direct access to UCD's PI data base. However, this arrangement is in itself inadequate for performing optimizations. Additional data not included in UCD's PI database would be needed and the campus was not able to provide this information. This report details the process, results, and lessons learned of this commercialization project.