By Michael Stadler
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has released DER-CAM 4.1.3, the latest version of the Distributed Energy Resources – Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM). This new version, released on October 1, 2014, improves on previous DER-CAM versions by bringing new capabilities focused on some of the key issues pertaining to microgrids and to their planning process.
DER-CAM 4.1.3 optimizes generation resources and loads within the boundaries of the microgrid in both grid-connected and islanded operational modes and establishes a useful microgrid design tool. DER-CAM now takes into account the synergies between grid-connected and islanded conditions, showing maximized benefits between the wide varieties of technologies possible in a microgrid: internal combustion engines, fuel cells, gas turbines, wind, solar, PV, heat pumps, electric and heat storage, combined heat and power (CHP), bio-fuel, natural gas, diesel, electric vehicles (EVs), demand response, and storage. DER-CAM also considers energy efficiency improvements at facilities, such as windows and walls that directly relate to changes in electric and heating loads and impact the generation technologies within the microgrid. ZNEB conditions can be considered as well. Further, DER-CAM considers policy measures and incentives that impact microgrid development and design, thus supporting high penetrations of generation from renewable energy resources, while maintaining reliability, offering resiliency, and achieving economic and environmental objectives.
DER-CAM 4.1.3 introduces a value-added feature for resiliency: the possibility of defining utility outage events of varying durations, from a few minutes to several days or weeks. During these events, when the microgrid is forced into islanding, DER-CAM now provides a way to determine the size of the equipment required to withstand the period of disconnection, whether hours, days or weeks.
Another valuable feature is the ability to model different load priorities, enabling the user to define critical loads. The management of priority loads is particularly important when managing limited generation resources (including storage) during periods of extended outages. As load priorities are linked to outage valuation, DER-CAM can be used to quickly assess the site costs in the event of an outage. By introducing back-up specific technologies it can be used to analyze the trade-off between adding additional reserve capacity of standard generation and storage equipment, or adding equipment solely for the purpose of backup during outage events.
A new web-based graphical user interface, specifically for version 4.1.3, is under development and will be available on-line starting November 1, 2014. Companies will be offered an opportunity to use it and test its usability. With this web interface users will be able to run the model and interpret its results without installing DER-CAM locally. For more information please refer to http://building-microgrid.lbl.gov.
Different versions of DER-CAM have been used for academic and commercial studies on distributed energy resources by universities, research institutions, utilities, and commercial companies for over ten years, as noted in more than 150 public reports, journal papers, and project reports. Now this same proven model can be used for microgrids.
This research is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
Source: Environmental Energy Technologies Division of LBNL