Solar-plus-storage microgrids minimize power outages during wildfires



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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David is a passionate writer and researcher who specializes in solar energy. He has a strong background in engineering and environmental science, which gives him a deep understanding of the science behind solar power and its benefits. David writes about the latest developments in solar technology and provides practical advice for homeowners and businesses who are interested in switching to solar.

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