Savings in Action: Lessons from Observed and Modeled Residential Solar Plus Storage Systems

Eric O'Shaughnessy, Dylan Cutler, Amanda Farthing, Emma Elgqvist, Jeff Maguire, Michael Blonsky, Xiangkun Li, Sean Ericson, Sushmita Jena, Jeffrey Cook

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The electric grid is rapidly evolving as small-scale, demand-side resources play increasingly important roles in grid operations and decarbonization. Maximizing the potential of demand-side resources involves incentivizing electricity customers to use those resources in ways that benefit the broader electrical grid. These incentives depend largely on the electricity cost savings that customers can realize from demand-side resource adoption. Determining these potential cost savings is a complex task. Cost savings depend on numerous factors, including the characteristics of different technologies, the algorithms that control these devices, system performance, customer behavior, electricity rate structures, and climatic factors. Another challenge is that estimated cost savings are frequently based on modeled rather than observed system performance, particularly in the academic literature. In this study, we begin to fill the gap in empirical research of demand-side resources using data from a new construction residential community equipped with rooftop solar and storage (S+S) in Arizona. We use these data to analyze the factors that determine customer electricity cost savings and emissions impacts of S+S in the real world. We then compare these data to modeled system performance to understand how models deviate from real-world outcomes. Based on these findings, we explore ways to improve such models and, conversely, use modeled results to suggest improvements to actual S+S deployment. The results of these analyses can be summarized in four key findings: 1) rate structures play a central role in the grid and customer value of demand-side resources; 2) certain customers can benefit more from demand-side resource adoption than others; 3) modeled battery dispatch and sizing reveals opportunities for additional cost savings; and 4) optimal dispatches can reduce grid emissions while maximizing bill savings.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages46
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-82103


  • battery
  • dispatch
  • emissions
  • new homes
  • performance
  • solar
  • storage


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