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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Costs and Operating Dynamics of Integrating Distributed Energy Resources in Commercial and Industrial Buildings with Electric Vehicle Charging

  • Author(s): Flores, Robert Joseph
  • Advisor(s): Brouwer, Jack
  • et al.

Growing concerns over greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions have increased the pressure to shift energy conversion paradigms from current forms to more sustainable methods, such as through the use of distributed energy resources (DER) at industrial and commercial buildings. This dissertation is concerned with the optimal design and dispatch of a DER system installed at an industrial or commercial building. An optimization model that accurately captures typical utility costs and the physical constraints of a combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP) system is designed to size and operate a DER system at a building. The optimization model is then used with cooperative game theory to evaluate the financial performance of a CCHP investment. The CCHP model is then modified to include energy storage, solar powered generators, alternative fuel sources, carbon emission limits, and building interactions with public and fleet PEVs. Then, a separate plugin electric vehicle (PEV) refueling model is developed to determine the cost to operate a public Level 3 fast charging station.

The CCHP design and dispatch results show the size of the building load and consistency of the thermal loads are critical to positive financial performance. While using the CCHP system to produce cooling can provide savings, heat production drives positive financial performance. When designing the DER system to reduce carbon emissions, the use of renewable fuels can allow for a gas turbine system with heat recovery to reduce carbon emissions for a large university by 67%. Further reductions require large photovoltaic installations coupled with energy storage or the ability to export electricity back to the grid if costs are to remain relatively low.

When considering Level 3 fast charging equipment, demand charges at low PEV travel levels are sufficiently high to discourage adoption. Integration of the equipment can reduce demand charge costs only if the building maximum demand does not coincide with PEV refueling. Electric vehicle refueling does not typically affect DER design at low PEV travel levels, but can as electric vehicle travel increases. However, as PEV travel increases, the stochastic nature of PEV refueling disappears, and the optimization problem may become deterministic.

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