Initiated in 2008, the SEGIS initiative is a partnership involving the U.S. DOE, Sandia National Laboratories, private sector companies, electric utilities, and universities. Projects supported under the initiative have focused on the complete-system development of solar technologies, with the dual goal of expanding renewable PV applications and addressing new challenges of connecting large-scale solar installations in higher penetrations to the electric grid.
Petra Solar, Inc., a New Jersey-based company, received SEGIS funds to develop solutions to two of these key challenges: integrating increasing quantities of solar resources into the grid without compromising (and likely improving) power quality and reliability, and moving the design from a concept of intelligent system controls to successful commercialization. The resulting state-of-the art technology now includes a distributed photovoltaic (PV) architecture comprising AC modules that not only feed directly into the electrical grid at distribution levels but are equipped with new functions that improve voltage stability and thus enhance overall grid stability.
This integrated PV system technology, known as SunWave, has applications for ―Power on a Pole,‖ and comes with a suite of technical capabilities, including advanced inverter and system controls, micro-inverters (capable of operating at both the 120V and 240V levels), communication system, network management system, and semiconductor integration. Collectively, these components are poised to reduce total system cost, increase the system‘s overall value and help mitigate the challenges of solar intermittency. Designed to be strategically located near point of load, the new SunWave technology is suitable for integration directly into the electrical grid but is also suitable for emerging microgrid applications. SunWave was showcased as part of a SEGIS Demonstration Conference at Pepco Holdings, Inc., on September 29, 2011, and is presently undergoing further field testing as a prelude to improved and expanded commercialization.