Applications & Maps

Community Energy Systems


Building Optimization

Clean Energy

Energy Resilience

The Future of Community Energy Planning

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.

Training Videos

If you can’t view all six training videos below, click here to watch them in a new window.

Keep up-to-date on the development of this tool by signing up for HARC’s newsletter.

Variables Terminology

  • 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.

Related Research

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