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CU Boulder and NREL Use REopt to Explore Options for Boosting Energy Resiliency with Campus Microgrid

Aerial view of the CU Boulder campus.

A REopt analysis will offer insights to help shape CU Boulder’s strategy for bolstering energy resiliency. Photo from CU Boulder

The University of Colorado (CU) Boulder and the City of Boulder, Colorado, are partnering with NREL to evaluate opportunities for a renewable energy microgrid to increase energy resiliency on campus. 

The University, in collaboration with the City of Boulder and NREL, intends to design, build, and operate a resilient (“hardened”) electrical distribution system that interconnects the Sustainability, Energy and the Environment Complex (SEEC) on East Campus and the adjacent buildings (SEEL-Wing, Wind Tunnel, and Aerospace) with the existing CU Boulder 15-kV microgrid. NREL is using the REopt™ model to identify cost-effective opportunities for renewable energy and storage as well as help CU Boulder understand the potential energy generation, carbon impact, and economics of various renewable energy options. NREL will apply these insights to assist the University in evaluating how these technologies can be incorporated as part of a microgrid to sustain critical loads during an outage. The result will be a conceptual microgrid design, including electrical interconnection concepts, operating schemes for utility-connected and islanded conditions, a cost estimate, and an estimate of the number of hours or days the microgrid can sustain the critical load.

The East Campus Microgrid initiative will provide an integrated electrical distribution system that includes islandable generation systems with renewable energy resources and smart grid components under one control system hierarchy to optimize functionality and resiliency. The study will also provide direction in the creation of campus sustainability goals as they relate to carbon reduction through renewables. These projects will result in a comprehensive and honest view of the Boulder community’s resilience challenges and opportunities. CU Boulder will use NREL’s analysis to inform further renewable energy and microgrid design and procurement steps.

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NREL presentation: Campus Energy Approach, REopt Overview, and Solar for Universities

CU Boulder press release: City and the University of Colorado Boulder Finalized Electric Services Agreement


Department of Energy

Key Partners

City of Boulder

University of Colorado, Boulder


Dan Olis