With the rapid rise of EVs, energy project developers and engineering firms need better ways to evaluate a proposed charging station’s costs, revenue and performance in the project feasibility stage.
“It’s not as easy as deciding to add EV charging to your parking lot and doing it,” says Parangat Bhaskar, product manager, HOMER Software, UL Solutions. “The increased electric load will likely exceed the existing power grid’s capability to supply this new and complex load type safely and sustainably.
And upgrading the grid is a long, costly undertaking. Customers foot the bill for such costly upgrades in many ways, including huge jumps in demand charges.
“The solution lies in building renewable energy microgrids or other distributed energy resources (DERs) to power charging stations and minimizing the impact on the local grid,” said Bhaskar.
With the new 1.10 version of its HOMER Grid modeling software, UL Solutions hopes to unlock this emerging category. HOMER Grid 1.10 enables users to rapidly calculate potential EV charging revenue based on user-defined charging prices and the costs of supplying electricity from the grid or using on-site renewable generation and storage.
These new features join HOMER Grid’s robust modeling of on-demand fast charging and managed or deferrable “smart” mode charging when time-of-use energy rates are lowest.
The software enables project developers to reduce the time and uncertainty of evaluating the ROI of a proposed, site-specific, renewable energy + storage powered charging station. It also aids in maximizing the project’s value, and demonstrating that value to customers. Modeling results can also help speed the permitting process, reduce the time from quote to construction, and provide cost-savings and revenue generation data that mitigates project risk and may result in better financing terms.
“Developers can confidently forecast revenue and ROI, which helps all stakeholders understand the project’s full value and speed up decision-making,” said Parangat Bhaskar, product manager, HOMER Software, UL Solutions.
Overall, the HOMER software has completed over 250,000 project calculations in 190+ countries, distributed across thousands of active companies that trust HOMER for their projects.
Extensive databases for electric loads, utility tariffs, incentives, demand response programs, solar irradiance and other weather data are integrated into HOMER Grid, allowing developers to analyze the feasibility of a prospective location and powering system configuration and compare multiple sites quickly.
HOMER Grid runs thousands of simulations, optimizing scenarios for multiple complex variables within minutes — including electric loads, utility tariffs, time-of-use charges, incentive programs, grid-power outages, local generation and battery storage, capital expenditures, operating costs and payback periods for solar — and determines the least-cost solution.
“Ultimately, information is power. HOMER Grid helps minimize uncertainty with simulation results and thus may help increase stakeholders’ confidence in the feasibility of a proposed EV charging station. Homer GRID may assist with projects being developed faster and more efficiently, with potentially more predictable outcomes,” Bhaskar said.
Other updates to HOMER Grid 1.10 include the addition of California’s new Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0 tariffs, which strengthen incentives for solar + storage systems in that state. Additionally, HOMER Grid allows users to import project production data from other design software. A new enhancement enables users to import multiple data files — from multiple solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, for example — to be combined into a single energy modeling project in HOMER Grid 1.10.
The software also allows the creation of custom tariffs, enabling more accurate modeling of energy project costs as utility pricing continues to evolve.
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