A Sales Platform for Energy Storage Projects
by John Gurski on Jul 03, 2017
modeling energy storage
Solar Sales Software
We’re excited about the upcoming launch of our energy storage software update. This new release is the culmination of a lot of learning for us. We have been planning this new build for a year and our engineering team has been developing it over the last several months. We are incorporating a lot of product feedback from energy storage manufacturers and developers who have been using our application over the last couple of years.
“the behind-the-meter energy storage market needs great software tools for sales and savings analysis. Having worked closely with storage vendors and project developers, we know there is still a gap here. We believe a sales platform approach can bridge that gap and facilitate more efficient deployments of storage projects for both groups.”
- John Gurski, Founder and CEO, Energy Toolbase
Our goal with this new release is to give users the ability to quantify the dollar savings of any type of behind-the-meter (BTM) energy storage project. Furthermore, we’re designing it to run all the savings analysis in an objective and transparent manner. To execute on this vision for our energy storage update, the software must be capable of modeling both the storage system hardware and software control strategy configurations of a specific storage vendor.
We believe that the BTM energy storage market needs great software tools for sales and savings analysis. Having worked closely with storage vendors and project developers, we know there is still a gap here. We believe a sales platform approach can bridge that gap and facilitate more efficient deployments of storage projects for both groups. This approach raises a few questions:
Shouldn’t the storage vendors be the ones modeling the economics of their systems?
We’ve worked with several different energy storage vendors over the last couple of years. We’ve realized that they are often quite different from one another and have specific areas of focus. Some are focused exclusively on manufacturing battery systems or inverters, some are working to integrate and package equipment manufactured by others, while others are deeply focused on developing controls software to operate systems in the field. These vendors have to solve several different challenges concurrently to get their product to market and they need to move quickly to identify opportunities to ramp up deployments.
Many storage vendors are not specialists when it comes to utility rates and ‘avoided cost’ analysis. They are busy solving numerous other challenges and don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with the never-ending cycle of changes to rates and tariffs. Even the storage manufacturers that have their own software systems working in the field are struggling to find the resources to build out software tools to quantify the dollar savings from their proposed projects. That’s where Energy Toolbase comes in. Our platform is uniquely positioned to comprehensively model, optimize and propose different types of storage projects.
How can Energy Toolbase model systems from different vendors?
Building software that controls an energy storage system in the field is very different than building software that quantifies the dollar savings of a storage project based on historical data. These are two different math equations, with a separate set of inputs. The algorithms that operate storage systems in the field are predictive, making charge and discharge decisions based on forward-looking data like weather forecasts. Whereas the algorithms that estimate savings for a specific customer are backward-looking, utilizing historical usage data and storage controls setpoints to simulate a representative 365-day profile of energy storage performance.
Ultimately the only way for a sales platform like Energy Toolbase to model realistic and representative savings of different vendors is to work in concert with those vendors. So, we set out to build a suite of control algorithms with settings that can be adjusted to mimic how a storage vendor’s system would operate in the field. Our platform approach will enable vendors to configure the electrical characteristics and control settings for the systems they offer and allow Energy Toolbase users to model storage projects using their systems. The best part is that storage vendors will be able to integrate with our platform for free, yea you heard it, free. Vendors will also have full control over which developers can use their systems within our platform. On top of that, we will offer premium features that can provide vendors with pipeline visibility, branding opportunities, and advanced customizable controls.
How do developers model & sell storage projects?
When we launch our update, Energy Toolbase users will immediately be able to model all of the complexities around a storage project including:
- DER combinations: modeling a standalone storage project, pairing storage with PV, or retrofitting storage onto a meter that already has PV.
- Value streams: modeling "peak-demand shaving", "Time-of-use (TOU) arbitrage", "self-consumption" control strategies and/or stacking multiple strategies together.
- Battery hardware specifications: kW power, kWh capacity, max depth of discharge, charge and discharge efficiency, etc
- Control software restrictions: requiring that storage system only charge from PV, or requiring that stored energy cannot be exported to the grid, etc.
- Utility rate assumptions: TOU price differentials, demand charges, utility rate switch scenarios, NEM 2.0 assumptions, etc.
Giving users the ability to set these project assumptions will enable them to model all different types of scenarios. But we believe that directly integrating storage vendors onto our platform is the real game-changing feature. Vendors will specify their hardware and software system parameters to be representative of how their systems operate. Developers will then have confidence that the analysis they run is validated by the vendor and indicative of the saving a project could achieve. This will streamline the sales analysis workflow for developers, enabling them to quickly and efficiently qualify projects and focus on deals that offer meaningful savings opportunities.
Our highly anticipated energy storage release is now available on our beta site. Energy Toolbase users can now test drive the new storage features that we've been working on before we go live. If you’re a current user, email us at contact[at]energytoolbase[dot]com for an invitation to our private beta.
About Energy Toolbase:
Energy Toolbase is an industry-leading software platform for analyzing and proposing the economics of solar PV and energy storage projects. Hundreds of the leading renewable energy developers nationwide use our software-as-a-service product to accurately, objectively and transparently analyze their projects and create customer-facing proposals. For more information or to request a free trial, visit: www.energytoolbase.com