Project Name: Solar Power Electronics Modular Integrated Node
Funding Opportunity: Advanced Power Electronics Designs for Solar Applications
SETO Subprogram: Systems Integration
Location: Woodland Hills, CA
SETO Award Amount: $3.2 million
Awardee Cost Share: $700,000

This project will produce a prototype of the Solar Power Electronics Modular Integrated Node (SPIN), a single-unit home energy management system that monitors and controls energy generation, storage, and usage and can autonomously respond to utility commands. SPIN will use advanced power electronics, smart controls, and a cloud-based learning algorithm to integrate solar, energy storage, and electric vehicle charging and discharging. The power electronics in SPIN will be reconfigurable to distribute electricity to connected devices upon commands from the algorithm.

APPROACH

The project team will develop the system’s power electronics, integrate the hardware, create the cloud algorithm, and perform a lab demonstration. They will develop requirements for both the SPIN system and the subsystem components, which will inform their design. The power electronics devices will contain silicon carbide because it allows for higher switching frequencies, higher operating temperatures, improved reliability, smaller magnetics, and reduction or elimination of electrolytic capacitors, which often fail because they overheat. The algorithm will gather data from home energy-usage patterns, utility time-of-use rates, and forecasted weather to generate usage profiles throughout the day. The team will integrate the system in a lab and demonstrate it using a PV simulator and a home energy battery.

INNOVATIONS

SPIN will be a fully autonomous home energy management system that integrates solar and energy storage and provides fast direct-current charging and discharging of an electric-vehicle battery. The integrated functions and hardware will be reconfigurable during operation, so SPIN can eliminate redundant components, which reduces the system cost. Connected to a home, SPIN will lower the cost of energy and respond to utility commands and requests. 

Flex Power Control diagram - Power Electronics
Illustration courtesy of Flex Power Control.