Benefit Analyses of Irvine Smart Grid Projects
This work has been conducted under the auspices of a joint U.S.- China research effort, the Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) Implementation Plan, Smart Grid. The wider objective of this effort is to develop common approaches to benefits analysis that can provide transferable methods and results to accelerate dissemination of results and deployment of smart grid technology. Two example benefits analyses are reported, both in Irvine, southern California. These first two analyses were conducted with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Smart Grid Computational Tool (SGCT), which is built on methods developed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The approach is based on familiar financial indicators, and all benefits are monetized. A logic flow is established by the user that moves from smart grid assets to functions, and ultimately to estimates of the benefits they generate. The analyses here cover a range from historic to prospective. Southern California Edison’s Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration (ISGD) project is one of 16 regional demonstrations co-funded by DOE and private partners under the particularly significant 4 plus billion-dollar Federal program executed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA-2009). This project has been completed and a considerable data set is available for analysis. Three sub-projects are analyzed: a neighborhood of deeply retrofitted homes intended to approximate performance close to a California standard for new zero net energy homes effective in 2020; a grid scale battery installation: and, a distribution Volt-VAR control demonstration. Excellent results were obtained for the Volt-VAR control demonstration, but the 9 demonstration zero net energy homes proved far from economic. The grid scale battery deployment also yielded positive results. While the ISGD ZNE homes are far from being economically attractive, these were intended to be a demonstration and their upgrades were expensive. The UCI Microgrid analysis covers a much different situation. Multiple campus assets involve a diverse set of technologies that have been acquired over many years. Consequently, the input data available is mixed. Some sub-projects that have been in place for some time have generated useful results, while others are still under development and results are mostly conjecture. Four specific technologies on the UCI campus are covered: the central 19 MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant, PV arrays totalling 3.6 MW of mixed vintages, a microgrid controller currently under development, and a 2 MW-0.5 MWh battery, which is just now being installed. The SGCT concludes all 4 projects are attractive. The CHP plant, PV arrays, and the battery report benefit-cost rations in the 3 to 7 range. The microgrid controller however, appears strongly desirable. Its main benefit is improved reliability, which is generally valuable, as are energy savings, while environmental improvements yield lower benefits.