Assessing Uncertainty in the Timing of Energy Use During Cost-Optimal Distributed Energy Technology Selection and Sizing

Ted Kwasnik, Emma Elgqvist, Katherine Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


This paper empirically derives uncertainty ranges in cost-optimal solar PV and storage sizing by comparing results from the REopt Lite optimization platform from metered data and a set of simulated Department of Energy Commercial Reference Building (CRB) profiles at 65 sites. We find load profile shape alone does not explain a site's optimal configurations (i.e., PV, Storage, PV and Storage, No System). Still, load profile shape does introduce uncertainty to optimal PV and storage capacities. Across all cases where PV is part of an optimal configuration, we find the average ratio of power capacities derived from metered loads to capacities derived from CRB profiles to be 0.97 (and as high as 1463), where 1 would be a perfect match in system size. For storage, the ratio is 1.6 (and as high as 42). We also assess how, in the absence of complete metered data, a CRB profile can be selected that would be expected to yield the most similar solar PV and storage capacities. From those metrics that can be available from billing data (i.e., peak demand, monthly load totals), we find that uncertainty is most reduced by selecting the CRB's with an annual peak occurring at the most similar time, or those with the lowest average root mean square error (RMSE) among monthly peak loads. This research can help improve the implementation and interpretation of results derived from simulated load profiles and is an important next step in advancing smart grid solutions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)122-131
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable Energy Focus
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-7A40-75369


  • cost-optimal system sizing
  • distributed energy resources
  • distributed energy system
  • load profile
  • metered data
  • REopt Lite
  • simulated load profile
  • solar plus storage
  • solar PV
  • storage


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