- Carlos Gamarra, PhD, PE, CEM
- Likun Chen
- Tianrun Zhang

- Houston, TX

HARC, along with project partners University of Houston and Fugro, are creating a user-friendly webtool to promote the deployment of District Energy Systems (DES) and community microgrids, known as community energy systems (CES).

The geographic information system (GIS)-based planning tool will allow end-users to assess the feasibility of multiple CES scenarios in a 3D environment. The ability to create a digital twin of the planning area and to incorporate down-scaled climate data and energy systems model, results in a robust, practical planning tool.

A feasibility analysis for a CES can be a time-consuming process. HARC’s tool provides an unbiased, simple-to-use feasibility assessment. End-users with no engineering knowledge will be able to analyze multiple economic scenarios for a CES and be prepared to work with design and engineering teams to build out their CES.

Click to view the training videos:

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**Recommended Solution/Optimal Solution:**The best solution determined by analyzing various factors and conditions.

**Investor Goals:**The financial objectives established by the user.**Initial Invest.:**The initial funding provided by the stakeholder for starting the project.**Loan:**Funds borrowed from a financial institution to finance the project.**Annual Savings:**The yearly financial savings achieved by the project when compared to the costs of a non-district system.**NPV:**Net Present Value, the total value of a project’s future cash inflows and outflows, discounted to their present value.**IRR:**Internal Rate of Return, the discount rate at which the project’s net present value becomes zero, used to evaluate the profitability of investments.**DPP:**Discounted Payback Period, the time it takes for an investment to repay its initial cost, considering the time value of money.**Eq. Annuity:**The annual payment amount that, if received each year, would have the same present value as the project’s total net present value.

**Service:**The cumulative operational costs over the life of the project.**Maintenance:**The total maintenance expenses for the entire duration of the project.**System Replacements:**The aggregate replacement cost of systems during the lifetime of the project.**Initial Project Cost:**The initial financial outlay for starting the project.

**Risk analysis:**An analysis involving 1000 simulated scenarios to assess project risks.**Value at Risk (Savings) MAXdNPV:**The highest NPV among the 1000 simulated scenarios.**Value at Risk (Savings) MEANdNPV:**The average NPV among the 1000 simulated scenarios.**Value at Risk (Savings) MINdNPV:**The lowest NPV among the 1000 simulated scenarios.**Probability of Obtaining Savings:**The likelihood of achieving a positive NPV in the simulations.**IRR over X% at 90% probability:**The minimum IRR achieved in 90% of the simulated scenarios.**DPP under Y years at 90% probability:**The longest payback period within 90% of the simulated scenarios.**Sensitivity:**The outcome of analyzing how sensitive the IRR or DPP is to different assumptions.**IRR Goal (over X at 90%):**The target IRR to be achieved in 90% of the cases during sensitivity analysis.**Incentive for IRR goals:**The incentives needed to reach the set IRR targets.**DPP Goal (under Y at 90%):**The DPP target for the project, set for sensitivity analysis.**Incentive for DPP goals:**The incentives required to achieve the DPP targets.

**Demand:**The total yearly electricity requirement of the project.**Generated On-Site:**The amount of electricity produced directly at the project site.**From the Utility:**The quantity of electricity supplied to the project by the utility grid.**Renewable Fraction:**The portion of electricity generated from renewable energy sources.**Environ. Emissions:**The total yearly carbon dioxide emissions from the project.**Onsite Fuel to Power Eff.:**The efficiency ratio of fuel consumption to electricity generation.**Energy to Fuel Ratio:**The efficiency ratio considering fuel consumption and the generation of both electricity and heat.**LCOE:**Levelized Cost of Energy: The average cost per unit of energy produced.**Breakeven Point:**The annual amount of electricity at which the cost of LCOE equals the grid electricity price.**Load Duration Curve:**A graph showing the number of hours per year the electricity demand is above a specific threshold, illustrating the project’s demand variability.

**Rated Capacity (kW):**The optimal or user-selected capacity of a technology type for the project.**Max Capacity (kW):**The highest output capacity achievable by the technology.**Avg Capacity (kW):**The average output capacity of the technology across its operational period.**Annual Operating Hours:**The total number of hours the technology operates in a year.**Lifespan based on Operation Hours (Years):**The estimated operational lifespan of the technology for the project.**Starts:**The number of times the technology starts up in a year.**Energy Generated (kWh/Year):**The amount of electricity produced by the technology in a year.**Thermal Output (kWh/Year):**The amount of thermal energy generated by the technology in a year.**Fuel (kWh/Year):**The annual fuel consumption of the technology.**Efficiency (%):**The percentage efficiency of the technology in converting fuel to energy.**Env Emissions (kg CO2/Year):**The annual carbon dioxide emissions from the technology.