California: EPRI, SunEdison partner on net-zero energy home pilot project

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is overseeing a pilot project to build nine net-zero energy homes in Fontana, California. SunEdison will supply advanced battery systems for the endeavor.

Also partnering on the project are national homebuilder Meritage Homes, which is constructing the houses, the California Public Utilities Commission and local utility Southern California Edison.

The research institute is leading the project to evaluate how net-zero energy homes that generate and store their own energy impact the local electricity grid. The is project is significant for the state’s future grid planning: Under the California Public Utilities Commission’s Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, California aims to have all new homes be net-zero starting in 2020, and all new commercial buildings by 2030.

"EPRI is leading this project to gain insights into how a community of net-zero homes interacts with the local grid," said Ram Narayanamurthy, EPRI’s project lead. "We’re using advanced controls and energy storage to manage these mini, distributed power plants that are expected to play a much larger role in the grid of the future."

Tim Derrick, SunEdison’s general manager of Advanced Solutions, added that with the project, SunEdison was “pioneering solutions that will help Californians prepare for the future of the grid, where homes and businesses will be generating their own electricity on a much greater scale than we’re seeing today. By installing SunEdison’s advanced battery systems on these net-zero energy homes, we’re able to store solar-generated electricity and better manage the interactions of that electricity with the grid."

SunEdison designed the advanced battery system and partnered with Eguana Tech, LG Chem and Geli on the project. The company will monitor and control the system to optimize the energy savings and load profile.

C.R. Herro, Meritage Homes’ vice president of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, described the pilot program as a “pivotal project” for the company. "Net-zero energy homes will be energy efficient, more cost effective to run, and have backup power in the event of a power cut."

Meritage Homes has already started construction on the homes and expects to complete the first models by the end of September.