Solar+Storage Optimization

  • Warren Gretz / NREL


Reducing Barriers through Cost-optimization and Market Characterization

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Solar+Storage: Reducing Barriers through Cost-optimization and Market Characterization, a joint endeavor of Clean Energy Group and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), seeks to elucidate the emerging market for distributed solar paired with battery energy storage (solar+storage). This two-year research initiative, funded under the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, aims to support the SunShot target to deploy hundreds of gigawatts of solar by 2020, which cannot be achieved without opening the storage-enabled solar market. This project delivers keys to unlock the value, reduce the costs, and expand the deployment of solar technology.

Barriers Addressed
Although prices for solar and for battery storage are declining rapidly, a poor understanding of cost-effective project design and market opportunities inhibits the deployment of solar with storage systems. This project aims to fill the information gaps regarding cost effective commercial applications of solar with storage, and inform the creation of a supportive policy and regulatory environment.


Solar + Storage: Reducing Barriers through Cost-Optimization and Market Characterization – Modeling Input Values and Assumptions, October 26, 2016 (updated)

Project tasks
The first phase of the project is the collection of data on existing and planned Solar+storage projects. Working with project developers across the country, the team will use data from existing projects to understand the current state of the market.

This initial baselining exercise will inform the next phase of the project, in which the team will conduct system-level modeling to identify technically and economically optimal project designs for various commercial applications of Solar+storage, using NREL’s REopt model. This will provide information on cost-optimal system configurations for a wide variety of building types, load profiles, rate structures, electricity markets and policy environments.

Using this understanding of optimal project designs, the team will then characterize regional markets for solar projects paired with storage, for a host of ‘what if’ scenarios. These forward-looking market characterizations will quantify customer adoption under a variety of technology cost assumptions, policy assumptions, and electricity market trajectories. This phase of the analysis employs NREL’s customer adoption model, dGen, which can provide predictions of market growth down to the zip code level.

Modeling Multiple Value Streams
Solar+Storage projects have the capacity to tap multiple value streams to shorten project pay-back periods. Value streams include both cost reductions, such as reduced utility demand charges or energy consumption charges, and direct payments to project owners from participation in demand response, frequency regulation, capacity and other energy services markets. The analysis will consider the relative value of each of these revenue streams for a variety of project applications.

Valuing Resiliency
When installed with the proper islanding and control systems, behind-the-meter solar+storage systems can provide backup power to critical electrical loads and extend the capacity  of existing backup generators during extended outages. However, the value of this resilient power benefit has not heretofore been quantified, and resiliency, despite being valued highly by stakeholders, is not easily monetizable by developers. As part of our analysis, NREL is developing a methodology to consider the value of resiliency in our optimization model.

Outputs and Outcomes
Outputs from this project will include baselines developed from existing project data, modeling results, optimized project configurations for a variety of commercial building types and locations, and a characterization of the anticipated solar+storage customer adoption for specific applications, geographical regions and market circumstances. These outputs will be publicly available for use by policymakers, regulators, developers, industry and others.

Anticipated outcomes include reduced planning costs and payback periods, and the ability to tap additional benefits such as resiliency that will contribute to increased adoption of distributed solar PV with battery storage.

Advisory Group – How you can participate
The NREL and Clean Energy Group team welcomes the participation of industry, state and local governments, utilities and other stakeholders in the this collaborative research effort. We have put together a broad list of participants that are providing data to inform baselining, input to the modeling assumptions, and review of draft results. If you are interested in being part of this project, or have any questions, please contact Joyce McLaren at or Todd Olinsky-Paul at

About NREL
NREL is the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

NREL analysis informs policy and investment decisions as energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies advance from concept to commercial application to market penetration. With objective, technology-neutral analysis, NREL aims to increase the understanding of energy policies, markets, resources, technologies, and infrastructure and connections between these and economic, environmental, and security priorities.

NREL is managed for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, a partnership between Battelle and MRI Global.

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Recent Publications

Additional Resources

Additional publications related to solar+storage optimization can be found in the Clean Energy Group Publications Library.

For more information about the way energy storage provides resiliency benefits, visit our Resilient Power Project page.

For more information and resources related to state efforts to promote energy storage, visit the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) website. ESTAP is managed by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), a project of Clean Energy Group.

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