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National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) New Calculator Helps Building Owners See if Solar and Storage Can Benefit Their Building

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a new free online tool that allows anyone to enter in a building’s information and receive an estimate on how much solar PV and battery storage (solar+storage)  would be required to maintain critical loads powered during an emergency.

The REopt Lite web tool was designed with energy managers, community partners and building owners in mind. Here are some key functions:

  • evaluates the economic viability of grid-connected PV and battery storage,
  • identifies sizes of systems and operational strategies to minimize energy costs, and
  • determines system sizes required to sustain critical loads during a specified outage period.

solar power benefits

New features let users determine the benefits and costs of a solar and storage system enhances to power necessary functions such as, lighting and refrigeration, during an outage.  

These newly optimized tool has an easy-to-use interface. Required data is simple such as building location and electricity rates. This tool allows users to analyze solar and storage systems for any commercial buildings, including but not limited to, schools, libraries, multifamily housing units.

ReOpt calculates and generates estimates for the ideal solar and storage system size the building will need to meet two design goals:

  • Create Financial benefits. Many tools can evaluate the economic benefits of solar, however, adding a storage system into the equation makes things much more complicated. The main economic benefit of adding battery storage for commercial customers is to reduce demand charges. Demand charges range from 30 to 70 percent of a monthly utility bill for commercial clients. Storage batteries can directly target and manage periods of high electricity demand, which save commercial clients substantially.


  • Create Resilience benefits.  Making sure a commercial building can withstand an outage is now the second most important goal for clients. Recent disasters in Florida and Puerto Rico, where outages contributed to devastation, have brought to the limelight the importance of power resilience. The tool provides building owners and emergency planners straightforward tools to determine how to make buildings more resilient.


REopt Lite allows users, for the first time, to factor in economics and resiliency together-two goals previously considered independently- in a simple, side-by-side comparison.


The REopt Lite tool allows its users to determine how financially beneficial an avoided outage gives users, by permitting them to assign and adjust a value. This feature makes it possible to consider the financial benefit of improved resilience. Enhancing customization and accuracy, another new feature permits users to incorporate existing on-site generation, like a diesel generator into their evalutation.

The above features and full resilience tools were collaboratively produced

with Clean Energy Group through its Resilient Power Project. Funding support is thanks to The Kresge Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program and Solar Energy Technologies Office.


Here is the link to the calculator:


For all your commercial solar panel installation needs, contact Top Tier Home Energy (949) 296-2296.

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