“Where does DemandEx work best?” That’s one of the most frequently asked questions we get from our commercial solar installer partners. Here are a few criteria you can use to determine if your commercial solar project is a good fit for our DemandEx demand charge reduction software:
As with all commercial solar, one size does not fit all. However, our solar contractor partners are most successful packaging DemandEx’s with the following solar project parameters:
Solar installation: Between 50 kW – 2MW PV (soft limit)
Demand charges: $20,000 or more per year (hard limit)
Flexible loads: Your solar project’s building has flexible loads that are causing the high demand and TOU charges. Most often, HVAC is causing the most demand charge pain, but EV chargers, smart lighting, and compressors can also spike demand charges and badly bruise a solar project’s ROI and payback times.
Time of Use (TOU): Occupants are using their flexible loads, such as HVAC, during peak TOU periods
Considering all of the above, the best types of solar buildings for DemandEx are:
Schools and universities
Car dealership buildings, furniture showrooms, etc.
The solar project types that do not work well include industrial/manufacturing, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, hospitals, and any other kind of building that has decentralized thermostat controls or requires precise temperature control for food spoilage.
So, to sum up, small to medium commercial buildings (generally less than five stories) work best with solar installed with DemandEx—which also plays well with batteries if your client is looking for resiliency and backup applications.
5 DemandEx Example Solar Building Projects
On the building types that work well, we’ve seen about a 30% demand charge savings from just controlling HVAC. Let’s go through a few specific examples that meet the above criteria:
1. Central California Church or House of Worship
Churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship have a strange occupancy pattern that causes extremely high load spikes just a few days a week, typically Saturday, Sunday, and a single weekday evening. For example, in central California church has plenty of hot weather, so load spikes are mainly due to the HVAC cooling down a church before a gathering. By DemandEx simply pre-cooling the church and matching the building’s load profile to the solar generation, a central California church can achieve 30% demand charge savings or more.
2. Jacksonville Florida Conditioned Warehouse
Jacksonville is another part of the U.S. that has plenty of hot weather. Luckily, DemandEx can handle its humidity and temperature constraints. While demand charges aren’t as high as they are in other parts of the country, energy costs are even cheaper in Florida, making the relative economics of DemandEx pencil out well. Consequently, large air-conditioned warehouses with rooftop solar are a perfect fit for DemandEx’s HVAC controls. For the same warehouse, other controllable loads, such as compressors and forklift charges, may offer additional savings!
3. Michigan Office Building
Michigan is another state that has some very high demand charges. If you’re a commercial solar installer, scout out large office buildings (usually up to 5 stories) with your rooftop PV or solar carport proposals.) Send us the interval data, and you’ll see how Michigan demand charge rates can be significantly reduced with Extensible Energy’s software. Packaging in DemandEx delivers a savings win for your client and a win to you by providing a higher ROI in your proposal.
4. San Diego Car Dealer
San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) has over $50/kW demand charges in some cases! Those demand charges can make it very difficult for solar installers to close deals. While solar PV is great at saving energy, it’s not so great for reducing demand spikes. However, with one recent San Diego car dealership, we showed how DemandEx software could double the customer’s solar project ROI by saving 30% on the demand portion of the bill. And when DemandEx is paired with the dealership’s EV charger controls, the economics become a no-brainer for a dealership or any office building owner with charging stations.
5. Home Owners Associations (HOAs)
Did you know that over 70 million people in the United States live under a Home Owners Association? It’s true. HOAs with a common space and a pool are great candidates for DemandEx. Through our A.I. and automated energy management capabilities, we can coordinate the solar energy output with the common area HVAC and pool pump and maximize the HOA’s energy savings.
Extensible Energy is continually improving features so that we can figure out improved ways to optimize savings for more diverse solar building projects. Stay tuned.
Raine Scott is Extensible Energy’s product manager.