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Office of Energy & Sustainable Development (OESD)
Office of Energy & Sustainable Development (OESD)

Berkeley Energy Assurance Transformation (BEAT) Microgrid Project

In the Fall of 2016, the City of Berkeley was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program to research the feasibility of creating a clean energy microgrid community that would provide sustainability and resilience benefits. The Berkeley Energy Assurance Transformation (BEAT) project analyzed how to create a microgrid in downtown Berkeley to provide solar power to key City facilities for daily use and to be used as clean back-up power, if power were to be disrupted. 

The goal of the grant was to develop an innovative, scalable, and replicable clean energy microgrid that would make Berkeley more resilient and serve as a model for other communities across the State.

BEAT logoThe BEAT examined the opportunities and challenges of designing a system that could allow buildings to share renewable energy during normal operations, and provide clean backup power to critical facilities in the event of a power outage. The BEAT project conducted a series of comprehensive technical, regulatory, and financial feasibility analyses for a microgrid that could seamlessly integrate into the existing fabric of the City, and provide sustainability and resilience benefits to buildings that otherwise might be left unusable in the case of an emergency. The BEAT project provides options for a fully connected multi-facility microgrid as well as an alternative solar + storage system. 

Ultimately, the BEAT project determined that islandable solar + storage systems at individual buildings provides the most cost-effective resilience strategy. A solar + storage system would consist of solar, battery energy storage and smart demand response technologies that could reduce peak daily energy usage and provide clean back-up power to curb dependence on dirty diesel generators when there is a power outage. 
 
In addition, the BEAT project included innovative business and financial models, procurement plans, technology and energy load plans, and a regulatory analysis of barriers and policy recommendations for advancing clean energy microgrid development. The BEAT project Case Study condenses the research that was conducted in the BEAT project to make it accessible to other jurisdictions looking to transform their critical facilities into hubs for local energy.

The BEAT project brought together policy makers, economists, engineers, experts and stakeholders to collaboratively create thoughtful and innovative community resilience solutions. The City collaborated with several partners including URS Corporation, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Center for Sustainable Energy, Interface Engineering, West Coast Code Consultants Inc., and NHA Advisors. The City is now investigating funding opportunities for solar + storage for key critical facilities. 

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