Reducing Grid Costs while Abating Emissions: Opportunities for Flexible Building Loads

Ella Zhou, Elaine Hale, Gord Stephen, Nikitha Radhakrishnan

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This study evaluates the value of technology-agnostic, shiftable flexible building loads in modeled 2030 and 2040 U.S. grids for four types of customers under three potential aggregated distributed energy resources programs. The value examined includes monetary value from providing grid services (e.g., energy, capacity, flexibility reserve, regulation reserve, contingency reserve) and from reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By comparing more than 845,164,800 simulated shifting opportunities, the study finds that the timing of consumption is critical for profit-driven customers. A program that is activated for 30 critical hours of system operation can result in to $73 per year in revenue for 1 kWh of shiftable load. Emission reduction, on the other hand, is best accumulated through a year-round program: 1 kWh of shiftable load can lead to up to 487.9 kg CO2e carbon reduction per year. The report also provides detailed insights on the trade-off between revenue and emissions, regional variation, short- versus medium- term value, and impacts from various building flexibility parameters, such as shifting window and dissipation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages33
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A40-84828


  • demand response
  • grid-interactive efficient buildings
  • power system flexibility


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