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Optimizing Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) Benefits with Battery Storage & DC Lighting

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David Mandell's picture
Marketing & Development Marshall DC Lighting, LLC

“DC Lighting is the Key to Optimized Microgrid Solutions” (Pacific North National Laboratory, 2020) Marshall 24DC, 48DC and 125DC LED light fixtures 24DC/48DC/125DC LED lighting brings increasing...

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  • Sep 30, 2020

Optimizing Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) Benefits with Battery Storage & DC Lighting

by David Mandell

Current Problem

Downtime of building lighting caused by public safety power shutoffs, rolling blackouts, electrical equipment issues, and/or power quality issues has generated a wide array of organizational safety and financial risks.   These ever so prominent problems and growing risks continues expanding the need for DC powered solutions, especially for those facilities considered as “critical” to our municipal infrastructures.

Direct Current (DC) Solutions

With the advancement of renewable power technologies (battery storage, solar PV, wind generation), several public programs have been developed and promoted to incentivize consumers and commercial facilities to invest in technologies to help off-set the risks created by AC grid issues, enabling “grid resiliency” and “time of use energy shifting”.  One such collaboration of building systems that yields optimum value and benefits is that between direct current (DC) power and DC LED lighting.

Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)

The California’s Public Utility Commission’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) offers rebates for installing energy storage technology at both residential and non-residential facilities. These storage technologies include battery storage systems that can function during a power outage…battery storage can be an important component of a more robust emergency preparedness plan in the event of a power outage.1

Approved “critical” facilities include police stations & fire stations;

  • emergency response providers & ops centers;
  • 911 call centers;
  • medical facilities including hospitals;
  • skilled nursing facilities & nursing homes
  • blood banks & health care facilities
  • dialysis centers & hospice facilities
  • public and private gas, electric, water, wastewater or flood control facilities;
  • jails and prisons;
  • cooling centers & homeless shelters supported by federal, state, local, or tribal governments; grocery stores, corner stores, markets and supermarkets that have average annual gross receipts of $15 million or less;
  • independent living centers; and
  • food banks

In preparation for the next wildfire season, the CPUC has authorized funding of more than $1 billion through 2024 for SGIP. This funding includes prioritization of communities living in high fire-threat areas, communities that have experienced two or more utility Public Safety Power Shut-off (PSPS) events, as well as low income and medically vulnerable customers. The funds are also available for “critical facilities” that support community resilience in the event of a PSPS or wildfire. 1

“DC Lighting is the Key to Optimized Microgrid Solutions” (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 2020)

DC lighting addresses the evolving need for renewable-powered, modular structure, and “off-grid” lighting solutions.  DC promotes cost savings and reduced carbon footprint benefits via direct (DC-to-DC) connection with battery storage and other renewable DC power sources, further expanding electric control costs and efficiency capabilities. 

Enabling the flexibility of sharing lighting power consumption among various power sources further optimizes control of electric source usage and costs through “strategic load sharing”, or “time of use energy shifting”.

Renewables & DC Lighting Optimizes Power Solutions, Value and Benefits

Lighting is moving towards DC power inputs (24DC, 48DC, 125DC), aligning nicely with battery storage systems and solar PV panels. Net-zero energy buildings will generate, store and consume power in DC, and researchers forecast that commercial buildings will save 15% of total power by foregoing the DC-AC-DC inversion process.

New infrastructure developers are creating electrical infrastructures for commercial buildings that use DC as the primary backbone throughout the building.  This notion represents an imminent evolution poised to transform the electrical infrastructure. With the many factors driving electricity distribution towards direct current (DC); the implications of DC lighting and renewables are enormous in the paradigm of building  power value, the growth of renewable technologies, and the economic, energy, and environmental impact yielded by renewable incentive programs such as SGIP and directly benefitting owner/operators.

Here are 10 Reasons it all makes sense…

  1. Risk Management – DC lighting provides mitigation against risk of lighting loss from power failure or downtime when connected to batteries and/or other alternative DC sources, building lighting can be safe-guarded against external environmental impact such as fires and (deliberate) power outages.
  2. Greater Dependability & Stabilityin a traditional Alternating Current (AC) system, an AC/DC conversion is necessary to use DC powered devices.  A DC lighting system takes DC power and directs it to the LED DC load. The result is a more dependable, constant circuit that operates with much greater efficiency than the traditional system.  The dedicated DC circuit produces lower noise, and removing AC/DC converters improves mean time between failures. 
  3. DC-to-DC Connect-ability - the power industry is moving to distributed power generation, including renewables, such as solar panels and battery.  DC lighting seamlessly connects to renewable DC power sources, so it’s much easier to integrate battery packs into DC systems and grids.  Additionally, DC-to-DC converters are small devices; up to 20 times smaller their AC-to-DC equivalents.
  4. Greater Efficiency – in a standard AC lighting application significant energy loss occurs every time power is converted from AC to DC at each device.  Removing this conversion stage can improve system efficiency by 5 to 10 percent. In many processes where consistency and lighting quality is priority, AC lighting circuits are “noisy” and inconsistent, causing flicker and pulsing, thus DC offers a viable solution.
  5. Optimize Costs and Power Control – a DC lighting grid inherently enables load sharing options; for example - when integrating solar and batteries with lighting, operators can optimize their power usage and costs by choosing to share power consumption of the lighting system (and other systems, appliances) among the available DC power sources.
  6. Decrease Costs – with the conversion to LED, lighting has effectively gone DC, eliminating the need and added manufacturing expense of requiring local drivers for each lamp.  Subsequently, this also results in cooler operation, more efficient and longer life of LEDs, as well as and cooler ceiling voids and building interiors, thus reducing the potential building heat load.
  7. Convenience - LED lamps are manufactured to include DC LED lamps or bulbs, providing significantly savings and convenience for installers and end-users.
  8. Proven Technologies; many blue chip companies and power utilities are currently using DC micro-grids for various lighting applications, and the momentum is being driven by the factors and benefits we have described.
  9. Expandability – a DC grid opens the opportunity for adding DC devices (i.e. sensors, cameras) and creating a network which can use data to deliver new services.
  10.  Decrease carbon footprint – DC lighting powered by sustainable renewables reduces carbon emissions equal to the energy produced to power the lighting load, which can be more than 70% of a building’s electrical usage.

DC System Components

The DC lighting system is typically comprised of a DC distribution network, specified to supply DC power to at least a portion of the building to supply ample power to the DC lighting load(s).

The system also includes a DC power source or sources having a DC power output (typically 24DC, 48DC, 125DC), such as a rechargeable battery and/or solar PV array, directly-coupled to the DC distribution network to provide DC power to the lighting grid.




Gigi Marie's picture
Gigi Marie on Oct 21, 2020

That's an outstanding article. DC to DC power is definately an outstanding stustaiable solution with tremendous cost savings. I would like to discuss Urban Environments. 

I think the industry needs to look at the vaiability of DC to DC in different environments for sure . Solar though is very important in the right environment and location. The cost for a solar field in combination with batteries and other support mechnisim is definitely high in the urban environment.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell is the winner for urban environments and for cost savings concerns. The electro magnetic generators keep on running 24/7 so long as a steady supply of a hydrogen infrastructure is made available.

At Marie, Inc. we are working deligently to share this concept and solution. I look forward to further feed back from the community.


David Mandell's picture
David Mandell on Mar 3, 2021

Thank you, Gigi - I finally came across your comment...:); let's connect to dicsuss further. Be well

David Mandell's picture
Thank David for the Post!
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