Fraunhofer CSE unveils new plug and play PV system in Massachusetts

Boston — 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.


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