Solar + Storage Synergies for Managing Commercial-Customer Demand Charges

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Demand charges, which are based on a customer’s maximum demand in kilowatts (kW), are a common element of electricity rate structures for commercial customers. Customer-sited solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can potentially reduce demand charges, but the level of savings is difficult to predict, given variations in demand charge designs, customer loads, and PV generation profiles. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are collaborating on a series of studies to understand how solar PV can impact demand charges.  Prior studies in the series examined demand charge reductions from solar on a stand-alone basis for residential and commercial customers. Those earlier analyses found that solar, alone, has limited ability to reduce demand charges depending on the specific design of the demand charge and on the shape of the customer’s load profile.  This latest analysis estimates demand charge savings from solar in commercial buildings when co-deployed with behind-the-meter storage, highlighting the complementary roles of the two technologies. The analysis is based on simulated loads, solar generation, and storage dispatch across a wide variety of building types, locations, system configurations, and demand charge designs.

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