Lead Performer: National Renewable Energy Laboratory—Golden, CO
-- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—Berkeley, CA
-- Colorado State University—Fort Collins, CO
-- Bosch US—Broadview, IL
-- PVI Construction Management—Littleton, CO
DOE Total Funding: $1,800,000
Cost Share: $500,000
Project Term: October 2017—September 2020
Funding Type: Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2017 (DE-FOA-0001632)

Project Objective

The fraction of building electric power serving DC loads has exceeded 50% and is projected to grow to 80% by 2030 with entrenched uses in computing and consumer electronics and increasing penetration of LED lighting and variable frequency drive (VFD) motors in HVAC and appliances. Selective use of in-building DC power distribution networks is estimated to save nearly 1 quad annually by 2030. With such high demand, whole-building DC power distribution circuits with large, efficient centralized AC adapters are beginning to look economically beneficial relative to the use of many smaller, less-efficient, point-of-use AC adapters (e.g. chargers, USB ports). On the other hand, centralized DC power networks are now common in data centers, but not in commercial buildings and homes. Electrical system designers and energy consultants do not have the tools to evaluate the energy savings and economics of centralized DC distribution in individual projects. Utilities similarly lack tools for capacity-planning and energy-efficiency program planning and administration.

This project will assess the DC power market to understand distribution opportunities, technical and analytical gaps for residential and commercial applications, and inform the analysis, design, and planning capabilities of these loads. The team will extend DOE’s open-source whole-building energy modeling tools platform—the EnergyPlus engine and OpenStudio software development kit—with power distribution system modeling capabilities to enable evaluation of energy and economic benefits of AC, DC, and hybrid power distribution systems. The team will perform equipment characterization and model validation for this analysis using a diverse range of facilities that can inform electrical system designers, energy consultants, and utilities.


DOE Technology Manager: Marina Sofos, Amir Roth
Lead Performer: Stephen Frank, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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