Today HOMER Energy released important updates for our newest distributed energy design software – HOMERⓇ Grid. HOMER Grid is a powerful simulation and optimization tool that helps solar developers, engineers, and energy and business planners lower the soft costs of developing complex, behind-the-meter, renewable energy projects. HOMER Grid helps energy developers calculate electricity cost savings from self-generation, providing an important window into the overall economic feasibility of grid-tied, distributed energy projects. I’m really happy about the fact that it has such a clear focus and that it serves a specific audience of people who are designing behind-the-meter systems with storage.
Create Your Own Custom Tariffs with the HOMER Grid Advanced Tariff Builder
The newest version of HOMER Grid includes an Advanced Tariff Builder that allows users to input complex tariffs manually, extending the usefulness of the software. While users can access about 90% of continuously updated North American utility tariffs within HOMER Grid, the new Advanced Tariff Builder allows you to manually input tariffs from your utility, making HOMER Grid useful anywhere in the world. It also captures the complexity of today’s commercial tariff structures and handles variations such as Time-of-Use rates, tiered or racheted tariffs, peak and semi/peak demand rates, seasonal pricing, demand and sell-back structures, and variations for different days of the week. Overall, the new features and greater flexibility of the Advanced Tariff Builder provide for a more accurate representation of tariff designs. That equates to more accurate modeling, which equates to more bankable results.
With this new release, HOMER Grid is now integrated with the popular solar design programs Helioscope and PVsyst. This allows solar developers to lay out their PV arrays in these tools and easily import the files into HOMER Grid, where they can then model optimal sizes and configurations of added energy storage. They can also calculate the financial benefits of storage to obtain overall economic results and produce powerful, customer-ready reports. The integration of solar modeling tools improves the workflow and provides more accurate solar production data, estimates that can be externally verified for investors and financial institutions. For example, HOMER Grid is now connected with the Helioscope API, which allows a user to log in to their Helioscope account directly from within the HOMER software, choose a specific project / simulation, and directly import the PV production data.
New Resiliency Feature Models Prolonged Grid Outages in Microgrid Mode
The updated version of HOMER Grid incorporates a key new resiliency feature – the ability to island a distributed energy project in the case of a prolonged (multi-day) grid outage. There are important differences between HOMER Grid and HOMER Pro in the way that they respond to grid instability. HOMER Grid is designed to model infrequent, extended outages accurately, such as an extreme weather event in countries where the grid is otherwise usually reliable. This resilience represents an important benefit that project developers might want to demonstrate to their clients. HOMER Grid users can specify critical loads that must be served during a long outage and clearly articulate the economic value of that service to a customer. During the modeling of an outage, the HOMER Grid priority switches from peak shaving of demand charges to the calculation of the cost of maintaining critical loads. HOMER Pro on the other hand, accurately models shorter, but more frequent outages as is common in developing countries where power quality and grid reliability is often low, whereas HOMER GRID specifically targets electric bill charges.
Another important new feature of the recent HOMER Grid release is the ability to model wind resources, along with solar, storage, generators, and CHP. This expands the variety of system architectures that users can simulate using HOMER Grid. (See our most recent article on the synergies of wind and solar in hybrid systems).
Faster Calculations, Improved Performance
Finally, this new update to HOMER Grid significantly reduces calculation times for projects with complex architectures. It also makes it easier for users to import electric load data, and improves the accuracy of calendar calculations, such as daylight savings.
If you haven’t already, we hope you will give HOMER Grid a try, and we look forward to hearing what you think about the software. We are always eager to hear from our users, and our most important software improvements are often undertaken in response to your suggestions. Download the trial version of HOMER Grid at: https://homerenergy.com/trygrid