The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) successfully completed the first public installation and interconnection of its Plug and Play PV Systems, a novel residential rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system, at its Plug and Play Demo Day.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initative, the Plug and Play System is a holistic approach to residential PV that will dramatically help reduce the total installed costs of solar electricity by 2020, from $4.00/Watt installed to $1.50/Watt. Incorporating innovative technologies with a PV system architecture that simplifies interconnection, permitting and inspection, Fraunhofer CSE developed a system design that addresses all aspects of the solar purchasing and installation process.
“What is particularly unique about this project is that it doesn’t just stop at technology development but is a comprehensive approach, including integration with the utilities and jurisdictions,” says Dr. Christian Hoepfner, Center Director of Fraunhofer CSE and principal investigator on the Plug and Play PV project. “Fraunhofer CSE and its partners are particularly well-positioned to tackle this challenge because of our integrated expertise across solar PV, building, and grid technologies. As an applied R&D organization, our focus is on getting technologies – especially those that will impact society and drive clean energy adoption – into the hands of consumers.”
The Plug and Play system is centered around ease of use and installation to encourage people to adopt solar. Once commercially available, homeowners will be able to go to their local building supply stores, purchase the PV systems, and install them in less than 10 hours – as easily as installing a washer / dryer combination.
Fraunhofer CSE has been working closely with a number of commercialization partners and other stakeholders, including the City of Boston, local Massachusetts jurisdictions (including the towns of Dartmouth and Falmouth), and New England utilities like Northeast Utilities, National Grid, and Green Mountain Power.
“We at Northeast Utilities see this program as incredibly important because it not only addresses installation barriers, but also simplifies the interconnection process,” says Penni Conner, Senior VP and Chief Customer Officer at Northeast Utilities. “These systems make solar adoption a less complicated and time-consuming process for our customers and easier for us to bring new solar onto our systems. Our customers are going to have easier access to solar, helping us support a more sustainable energy future.”
As part of the Plug and Play Demo Day, Fraunhofer CSE demonstrated the full-scale installation and commissioning of a PV system in one hour. The project’s next focus will be on the demonstration of a commercial-ready system in 2015.
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.
The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) is a non-profit applied research and development laboratory dedicated to fostering economic development through the commercialization of clean energy technologies for the benefit of society. With a focus in building energy technologies, solar photovoltaics, distributed electrical energy systems, start-up assistance, and technical validation, Fraunhofer CSE engages in collaborative research with private companies, government entities, and academic institutions. Fraunhofer CSE is a subsidiary of Fraunhofer USA and affiliated with Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Europe’s largest contract R&D organization. Visit cse.fraunhofer.org for more information.
Fraunhofer USA, Inc., headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, is a subsidiary of Fraunhofer, the leading organization for applied research in Europe. Fraunhofer USA, a 501(c)3 non-profit research organization, operates labs in sustainable energy, biotechnology, computer security, manufacturing innovation, laser technology, and industrial coatings. Its research centers collaborate with major research universities in the United States to bring innovative technologies to the marketplace.