Plug and Play PV Systems

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An industry-wide collaboration to make solar affordable for all

The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE is developing Plug and Play PV systems to dramatically reduce the soft costs of residential PV installations, targeting a goal of $1.50/Watt installed cost by 2020, down from an average of $3-4/W installed cost in the U.S. today. The vision of the project is to make PV systems similar to an appliance – installed quickly, easily, and safely, even by someone with no prior PV installation experience.

The holistic approach to design integrates technologies into a system architecture that simplifies code compliance and automates permitting, inspection, and interconnection – thereby reducing the time and removing the uncertainties in those processes that increase soft costs.

Additionally, soft costs are reduced through the very rapid installation of Plug and Play PV systems. During the recent 2016 Plug and Play PV demonstration, a team of three people (with no prior PV installation experience) installed and commissioned a 3kW Plug and Play PV system in less than 75 minutes.

Key Features:

  • Ease of installation: Use of preconfigured wiring, touch-safe connectors, adhesively mounted or rack mounted modules, solar-ready connector
  • Ease of proof-of-code-compliance: Plug and Play PV systems have been designed for ease of inspection, and feature an electronic safety self-test to ensure that the system is installed safely and meets code requirements.
  • Electronic permitting, inspection and interconnection processes: Plug and Play PV systems use a standardized data transmission protocol to facilitate regulatory approvals, making these processes fast and predictable

System & Standard Developments:

The Fraunhofer CSE Plug and Play PV systems project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. Fraunhofer CSE demonstrated the technical feasibility of Plug and Play PV system installation and commissioning of a prototype.

Fraunhofer CSE is also developing a Plug and Play PV system industry standard that will specify how these systems interface with utilities, jurisdictions, and the homeowner, but will allow flexibility in other aspects of Plug and Play PV system implementation – making Plug and Play PV systems a framework for low-cost solar while allowing solar system manufacturers and consumers to identify the most attractive solutions.

Implementation:

Currently, various aspects of Fraunhofer CSE’s Plug and Play PV technologies are being implemented at manufacturers, software vendors, and utilities. Further participation and licensing opportunities exist.

Supported by:


This project is funded by the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative as part of a larger DOE investment aimed at developing technology solutions that reduce the “soft” costs of residential solar PV systems.