Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Homer updates grid modelling software

Steve Rogerson
January 22, 2019
Colorado-based Homer Energy has updated its grid software designed to model distributed energy systems so commercial and industrial users can cut energy costs. The tool for simulating grid-tied solar-plus-storage and other hybrid renewable energy projects has been given more ways to estimate the costs of improving reliability and resilience.
Homer Grid can accurately model the economic consequences of grid outages and help users estimate how the timing of random power failures might affect the energy economics of commercial and industrial facilities.
The need for improved electric reliability is one of the key factors driving commercial investments in distributed energy. Power outages are increasing in the USA, due to an aging electric grid and more frequent extreme weather events. They are also costing companies more on an hourly basis according to a 2018 report by S&C Electric. The report says that, in 2017, 58% of manufacturing facilities reported an outage of an hour or more, and 18% reported losses of over $100,000 for their worst event. Data centre outages, for example, can cost companies up to $9000 per minute.
"We have been modelling grid-connected systems for well over a decade, and valuing grid-connected storage requires a really rigorous approach," said Homer Energy founder and CEO Peter Lilienthal. "We created Homer Grid as a dedicated product to do this very well."
Users of Homer Grid 1.3 can model any brand of power system components, such as solar photovoltaic cells, generators, batteries, wind turbines and inverters. In addition to its software library, users can edit technical specifications to update existing or create entirely new components.
Unlike many energy modelling programmes that only work with proprietary components, Homer Grid has always been agnostic, providing the ability to simulate distributed energy systems with all equipment brands. Users can create and model power systems with the exact brands and specifications they will use in an actual build as they simulate and compare possible grid-connected hybrid renewable energy systems.
The version incorporates the Genability database of utility rates for North America and also allows users to create complex, custom and international tariffs in a more robust and useful manner. Users can model economic impacts of switching to a new tariff. They can validate past utility tariffs to Homer Grid's bill estimate, and calculate income potential from selling excess energy back to the grid. Using electric load data down to minute-long intervals, the updates will allow for a more accurate simulation of many tariff structures including net metering.
Homer Grid gives commercial and industrial users the potential to reduce their demand charges and other electricity costs through the design of cost-effective behind-the-meter projects. By accurately modelling and comparing the financial benefits of multiple distributed energy options, users can reduce financial risk by determining the best mix of generation sources for the lowest cost.
The software rapidly performs complex calculations that determine the value of self-consumption, demand charge reduction and energy arbitrage. While solar-plus-storage is the most popular combination, it also models wind, combined heat and power, natural gas, and other energy components for hybrid renewable energy systems.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Homer Energy was founded in 2009 by Lilienthal and Marilyn Walker, and now has over 200,000 users in more than 190 countries.