The Reference Electrification Model (REM) supports (1) large-scale electrification planning and (2) local (smaller-scale) electrification projects. Required information about building locations, solar irradiance, topography, grid extent and reliability, expected consumer demand, fuel costs, and infrastructure costs are input into the model. After running a series of clustering and optimization algorithms specifically designed for electrification planning, REM produces lowest-cost system designs. A user can then tune input parameters to enable sensitivity analyses and derive policy-driven insights or entrepreneurially-driven plans. When building location data not available, we can provide inferences using satellite imagery and deep learning-powered building extraction systems.
Based on how complete the input data is, REM's large-scale operation mode uses different methods to estimate the electrification status of consumers. It will then identify the electrification mode (i.e. grid extensions, microgrids, or standalone systems) for each individual building that most closely conforms to planning objectives which may include cost, implied emissions, and reliability. Such building-level granularity is a unique attribute of REM. Subsequent steps help to determine the financial viability of the projects.
The large-scale functionality of REM can be particularly useful for informing policy-makers by enabling detailed sensitivity and scenario-analyses. Uses can change model parameters and compare outcomes for each scenario. The effect of differing technology solutions, subsidy requirements, final costs to consumers, and many other inputs can be very valuable for decision-makers who would have no other way of making such comparisons. REM can reveal nontrivial second and third-order characteristics about electrification plans, and help decision-makers ensure that their policies are well-founded.
Local REM (LREM) uses a subset of REM's decision-making processes for use at the smaller scales (e.g., town or village level). LREM aims to be a comprehensive open-source tool that is specific to rural microgrid design and available to entrepreneurs in developing regions. It is capable of outputting practically implementable microgrid designs. In comparison to existing tools, LREM uniquely combines the following features: