BOSTON — The Fraunhofer USA Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) successfully demonstrated two installations of plug-and-play solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at its “2016 Demo Day.” The R&D laboratory said plug-and-play PV systems are easy to install, easy to inspect for code compliance, and can participate in electronic permitting, inspection, and interconnection (ePI&I) processes. The vision for plug-and-play PV is to make solar system installation as easy and safe as it is for everyday appliances.

The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) SunShot Initiative, will help to significantly reduce the installed cost of residential PV systems, from $3-4/watt today to $1.50/watt by 2020.

“We have taken the plug-and-play PV approach to the next level by demonstrating that different technology approaches can meet the vision with simplified installation, simplified inspection, and electronic permitting, inspection, and interconnection,” said Dr. Christian Hoepfner, executive director of Fraunhofer CSE and principal investigator on the plug-and-play PV project. “This opens the path for many manufacturers to develop and offer plug-and-play PV systems. Fraunhofer CSE and its commercial partners are now looking forward to piloting the plug-and-play PV approach on a larger scale in 2017.”

Fraunhofer CSE has been working closely with a number of major stakeholders, including the city of Boston, electrical utilities like National Grid and Eversource, and industry partners such as Lumeta, SunPower, and VoltServer, among others.

“The commonwealth’s partnership with Fraunhofer CSE continues to drive innovation and cut energy costs while making clean energy options like solar more accessible to residents and businesses” said Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “As part of the Baker-Polito administration’s commitment to Massachusetts’ leadership in clean energy, we’re proud to support these types of public-private partnerships that aim to transform clean energy marketplaces.”

As part of the demo day, Fraunhofer CSE performed a live installation of a string inverter PV system including commissioning in less than 75 minutes. Another plug-and-play PV system based on micro-inverters was also demonstrated. The project will next develop pilot projects in multiple utility territories in 2017.

For more information about the project, visit

Publication date: 6/30/2016