Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have shown that microgrids with solar-plus-storage systems can keep the average constant cost of energy (LCOE) below $0.30/kWh and limit annual public safety blackouts to 2-3% of annual energy demand.
Recent studies have suggested the use of solar-plus-storage microgrids to minimize public safety issues caused by PSPS outages during wildfire season in communities located at wildland/urban interfaces such as California and much of the US West Coast.
There had not been a comprehensive assessment of microgrids to assess the resilience of up to 46 million Americans who live at the interface between forests or wilderness areas and cities, where wildfire risk is acute.
To address this research gap, research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at a new modeling framework and assessed the potential of solar energy and batteries for areas where power may be cut off based on wildfire warnings.
LBNL’s modeling framework consists of:
- Clustering algorithms that identify communities based on building footprint data, fire risk severity, and renewable energy potential;
- Building simulation model to quantify energy demand;
- An energy system optimization model for the microgrid.
LBNL defines a microgrid as a controllable and local energy grid that can be disconnected from the regional grid and operate independently.
The optimization tool was applied to model microgrids in forest border areas, followed by an evaluation focused on seven California locations with varying climatic conditions.
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