Episode 73 of the Factor This! podcast features Dr. Michael Stadler, who wrote much of the early research on microgrid design and optimization. He’s now the chief technology officer for software startup Xendee, which aims to bring speed and efficiency to DER deployment. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
You’ve heard the refrain about distributed energy resources. If you work on utility-scale solar or storage projects, you may have even uttered the line yourself: They don’t scale.
It’s a familiar knock on distributed energy resources, or DERs. Even though they are unique in providing resilience and deferring grid upgrades, these small, bespoke projects often come at a higher price tag compared to larger projects with a more routine system design.
The data bears out the talking point, too. While it is an imperfect metric for comparing energy resources, the Energy Department’s Levelized Cost of Electricity ranks residential, commercial, and community solar as the most expensive renewable generation technologies on a dollar per megawatt-hour basis.
According to analysis published by Lazard in 2023, residential solar claimed an LCOE of $74-$229/MWh when accounting for subsidies. Utility-scale solar, on the other hand, came in at $16-$80/MWh with support from the investment tax credit.
But what if DERs could capitalize on the same efficiencies that fueled the rapid deployment of utility-scale solar and storage? Small-scale could go big… in a big way.
That’s the mission behind software startup Xendee, which aims to standardize DER deployment by incorporating all aspects of the system design, implementation, and optimization processes into a single platform.
Dr. Michael Stadler, one of Xendee’s co-founders who serves as its chief technology officer, said standardization can reduce DER project costs by as much as 90%.
To develop and build a microgrid, the crown jewel of DERs, first requires a feasibility study, followed by a detailed technical design and implementation. Once installed, the project is optimized to fulfill modeling expectations.
Typically, DER project developers utilize a handful of different tools to fit their needs which, Stadler said, raises the likelihood of errors and delays, adding to the project’s bottom line.
“(With) a standardized modeling approach, then more people can do this, and we’ll have less impact on the environment than these larger projects,” Stadler said on the Factor This! podcast from Renewable Energy World. “That’s why we’re doing it.”