Plug-and-Play Solar Photovoltaics for American Homes
Fraunhofer USA, Inc., Center for Sustainable Energy Systems and its partners, under the Plug-and-Play Photovoltaics FOA, are developing technologies, components, systems, and standards that enable homeowners to easily select the right-sized photovoltaic (PV) system for their house, purchase a configured system, install the system on their rooftop with minimal help, wire the system safely with preconfigured cabling, and connect it to an existing PV-ready smart meter.
The new plug-and-play system will check itself for proper installation and communicate with the local utility to request permission to feed power into the smart meter. The utility will remotely grant the permission to the system to connect, and the PV system will immediately start to produce power to either consume in the house or feed into the distribution grid.
Project partners include: Lumeta Solar; Petra Solar; Schletter Inc.; the City of Boston; the Town of Rutland, Vermont; Green Mountain Power; the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing; Vermont Law School; Tufts University; and Sandia National Laboratories.
In addition, the team will work with the national codes and standards community to identify hurdles for such a system, propose code changes, and develop technologies that will enable the system to be UL listed and therefore not subject to local building inspections. Progress of the five-year project will be demonstrated yearly on rooftops in the Boston, Massachusetts, and Rutland, Vermont area.
Key features of the set of technologies to be developed include lightweight PV modules that will be glued onto rooftops, self-sealing roof mounts for racked PV modules, distributed power conversion for safe and simple wiring completely outside of the building, self-testing of all system components, and a communications protocol from the PV system to the utility.
Learn about other DOE competitive awards for systems integration research that are in progress.