University of Houston are developing a 3D online web application system to expand the number of feasibility analyses for district energy systems and community microgrids. The development is funded by the Department of Energy and a joint project with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and the world’s leading Geo-data specialist Fugro.
The low-cost tool is aimed to make planning and exploration in the field of microgrids and community energy systems more accessible to broader potential investors regardless of their educational backgrounds.
The developers believe the tool will be crucial in the future, either as a way to address future needs or as a means to analyze the possibility of renewable energy. It has the potential to empower both governments and citizens to plan better to anticipate future energy demands.
Common users can determine the best preliminary designs and the economic feasibility of their community energy systems. Technical users can use the tool to benchmark their designs before validating the solutions in the 3D environment.
"Ultimately, the goal is for communities to overcome the cost and knowledge barriers of feasibility analyses, making microgrids and community energy systems accessible to investors without an engineering background," said HARC senior research scientist Carlos Gamarra.
“This tool will allow facility managers to plan for upgrading their facilities to include renewable energy and combined heat and power," said Driss Benhaddou, professor at the University of Houston.
"The University of Houston will improve the backend software tool to compute information input by the user on the main interface and provide recommendations in a quarter of the regular time," he added.