Resilient buildings for fire-adapted landscapes: EE and flexible loads integrated with solar and storage microgrids
Energy efficiency (EE) and flexible loads can be part of a resilient buildings package when they are combined with solar and storage in a clean energy microgrid to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and enable resilience to extreme events. Recent large wildfires and an emerging understanding of the fire-adapted landscapes in the American West underscore the urgency of work towards scaling and commercializing these systems. For example, a recent power shutoff in Northern California (October 9-12, 2019) resulted in 738k customers disconnected at the peak of the outage and is emblematic of challenges to come. Our paper reports on insights from a clean energy microgrid deployment pilot that integrates a 50 kWAC PV array, a 109 kW / 174 kWh battery system, switchgear to safely isolate from the regional power system, and communicating controllers for HVAC and refrigeration. The project will be commissioned in May 2020 and is sited at a critical infrastructure site in rural Northern California – in this case a gasoline station with convenience store. Our experience and results shed light on capabilities of integrated microgrids to provide value to customers during blue sky conditions and resilience during black sky days with high fire risk, and what opportunities and barriers exist for scaling these integrated microgrid systems in the near term. We use a simulation model to estimate how EE and flexibility can extend the run time of solar and storage, improving the reliability of power at critical sites.