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During phase 1 of the distributed energy project implementation process, the agency defines the goals of a distributed energy project, collects site energy and cost data, and conducts a screening of technologies at a single site or portfolio of sites to identify technologies and locations for a further in-depth distributed energy assessment.

Step 1: Define Goals of the Distributed Energy Screening Analysis

Statutory goals require the federal government to utilize renewable energy, but an agency or federal facility may have other goals that propel the effort. Defining the goals of the screening can help set the bounds of the analysis and shape the resulting recommendations. Examples of goals include minimizing the cost of energy, achieving net zero, or increasing energy resilience. At an early stage, a site or an agency may not know which energy technology will best meet their energy needs or which sites have the highest potential to meet agency-wide goals, and multiple technology options and sites should be explored.

Find Resources
See tools and publications for planning and implementing distributed energy projects.

Step 2: Collect and Review Project Screening Data

Federal energy/facility managers interested in distributed energy projects should collect site data covering facility and energy characteristics. This data serves as the input for the analyses conducted in Step 3 below.

Project Screening data most often required includes:

  • Site Data: the site location, boundaries, and areas available for project implementation considering land-use plans or facility master plans
  • Utility Data: utility bills, details of utility rate schedule, and time series data on energy consumption (if available); energy cost inflation rates
  • Policies and Incentives: state policies regarding interconnection, net-metering, and power sales that might encourage or discourage projects and determine the type of project; incentives available from the utility or local, state, and federal sources, such as income tax credits, property tax exemptions, rebates, production incentives and renewable energy certificates (RECs)
  • Renewable Energy Resources and Technologies; Renewable energy sources in the area including incident solar radiation, wind velocity, biomass fuel feedstocks, and any other such as geothermal hot springs; information on RE conversion technologies such as capital cost ($/kW); operations and maintenance cost ($/kW/year); efficiency (%); size and land area requirements (acres/MW); and expected lifespan (years).

The level of detail collected increases as a project moves through the project process. For example, during the screening phase, a site may only consider the annual electricity use while during the project validation phase, the hourly or 15-minute interval data may be used.

Distributed Energy Technologies for Resilience
Explains how distributed energy resources can help agencies meet resilience goals and mandates.

Step 3: Conduct a Distributed Energy Screening

The Federal Energy Management Program offers several free screening tools, such as REopt Lite, and resource maps that can help energy or facility managers conduct a preliminary distributed energy analysis screening. These resources can help agencies identify potential opportunities and decide whether a distributed energy project is worth further investigation. At the headquarters or regional level, an agency can screen multiple sites to identify and prioritize locations for further study while an individual site may conduct a screening to assess which of the technologies evaluated may be suitable for that site's goals.

Step 4: Identify Sites for a Feasibility Assessment

The purpose of a screening is to quickly and efficiently down select viable technologies and sites which reduces potential costly investments of time and money on unlikely projects. A screening provides an initial indicator of technical and economic viability and informs an initial go/no-go decision. In addition to evaluating the techno-economic potential, sites may want to consider agency mission compatibility and candidates for an on-site project champion.

Next Phase

Phase 2 of the distributed energy project implementation process focuses on forming a strong project team. See Phase 2: Project Team Formation.

Key Resources

Identifies and prioritizes renewable energy projects at a single site or across a portfolio of sites in cities, states, or countries.
Compares the combination of capital costs, operations and maintenance, performance, and fuel costs
Examines the viability of three solar technologies in the U.S. with a high-level annualized economic calculation
Guide provides a framework for federal government, private developers, and financiers to coordinate on large-scale renewable energy projects.
Feature strategies for achieving net zero energy, water, and waste in federal buildings and campuses.
Details this project structure, which uses the multiyear ESPC authority to implement distributed energy projects.
Template provides example language for agencies assembling solicitations and contracts for privately-financed, on-site solar photovoltaic systems.
Guide for federal agencies in selecting and integrating renewable energy technologies within new construction or major renovation projects.