In My Backyard
From Open Energy Information
In My Backyard (IMBY) is a web-based solar simulation tool and is meant to introduce homeowners and business owners to the possible benefits of renewable energy. The main purpose of IMBY is to provide an easy-to-use interface to estimate the hour-by-hour amount of electricity produced by a PV system over a year. IMBY uses a Google Maps interface to allow the user to choose a system location with pinpoint accuracy. It then draws data for that location from one of NREL's renewable resource databases to estimate potential electricity production. Homeowners, businesses, and researchers use IMBY to develop quick estimates of renewable energy production at locations throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, and northern Mexico. IMBY may be used by users with minimal to good knowledge of these technologies. Most IMBY users are likely to be in the early stages of looking into solar potential on their property and probably have never received a quote from an installer. More information on IMBY is available at NREL's IMBY site.
The Solar Estimator
IMBY's solar estimations are based on NREL's PVWatts calculator. However, unlike PVWatts, IMBY provides estimates only for fixed-tilt PV arrays. In addition, IMBY uses Perez data rather than typical meteorological year data. Perez data are satellite-derived, high-resolution data from visible channel images from geostationary satellites (GOES).
Inputs and Outputs
Below are descriptions of the inputs and outputs for the tool.
The user inputs a location and selects a technology to analyze (solar PV). For PV, the user can then either draw a PV system on a certain location or the user can input the system characteristics:
- Size (kW)
- Tilt angle (degrees)
- Azimuth angle (degrees))
- Select the year of solar data that will be used in calculations.
Optional inputs include:
- Electricity cost ($/kWh)
- Type of system (residential or commercial).
The user can also opt to compare the estimated solar PV electrical production with the user's energy consumption by either using a sample load profile or uploading a load profile. In this case the user can also define the buy-back rate for any electricity sold to the electric utility.
- Rebates ($)
- Tax credits ($)
- Cost/W ($)
- Initial cost of PV system ($)
- Cost of PV system after incentives ($)
- Payback period (years)
- Monthly and annual electrical output (kWh)
- Monthly and annual value of PV electricity ($).
If the user chose to draw a PV system at their location, IMBY also outputs system size (kW).
If the user chose to analyze a load profile, IMBY outputs the load profile of the location versus the electrical output (in kWh), as well as the electrical costs with and without PV ($/month).
IMBY is an easy-to-use tool to estimate the economic potential for PV at a specific location, and via a GoogleMap interface it enables the user to draw and visualize a system on a property.
The tool is targeted for home- or business-owners.