NextEnergy Center commits to create and build NextHOME, a demonstration facility that will provide a platform for showcasing renewable generation technologies (e.g., Solar Photovoltaic) and Direct Current power networks as a way to use the locally generated DC power from Solar PV and a number of devices that can use the DC power directly, such as household appliances, consumer electronics, HVAC equipment, and vehicle charging. DC devices avoid the losses associated with DC-AC-DC conversion. NextEnergy Center commits to erect a manufactured home; install PV generation; work with technology developers and device manufacturers to install, demonstrate, and monitor household appliances, consumer electronics, HVAC equipment, and electric vehicle charging systems; work with technology developers/ device manufacturers to publish results and findings; and create education and outreach opportunities to raise awareness of the value of distributed renewables and DC powered devices. NextHOME will be a demonstration facility and will not have permanent residents. It will result in data concerning device operations to answer the question 'does it work?', energy use to answer the question 'how much energy is actually saved?,' and communication and controls performance to answer the question 'what works best?' The manufactured home was chosen as the base for the demonstration because it provides a modular, flexible, low cost option that feeds into a variety of real market applications (e.g. shipping container modular housing and offices, low cost homes for US rural and low density urban markets, rapid response options for disaster recovery situations, scalable options for developing world applications). NextEnergy will use the physical property at the NextEnergy Center and will work with various funding and investment stakeholders to attract additional resources for this project. NextEnergy Center will leverage its engineering, program management, and marketing communication skills to accomplish the project.
This project will demonstrate how local renewable generation, when combined with energy storage and DC power networks, can fulfill local energy needs and offer energy efficient options for off-grid and grid-connected applications.
Install house on NextEnergy Center test platform (8/1/2013): NextEnergy Center will secure a partnership with a home manufacturer, create engineering drawings for installation, secure permits from City of Detroit, prepare the site, and receive and install the manufactured home.
Convert electrical distribution system to DC power (9/1/13): NextEnergy Center will finalize their partnership with Nextek DC power systems, develop engineering drawings, and install DC power network.
Install PV generation system (10/15/13): NextEenrgy Center will secure a partnership with a solar PV provider, determine energy storage requirements and secure partnerships with energy storage device partners (electric vehicle battery only vs. electric vehicle plus supplemental energy storage), develop engineering drawings, install the PV generation system and energy storage, connect the PV generation and energy storage to the local DC power network, and install communication and controls.
Install first generation appliances and systems for demonstration and monitoring (12/1/2013): NextEnergy Center will secure partnerships with appliance and consumer device partners, install appliances and consumer devices, and develop operations/testing protocols.
Commission bi-directional electric vehicles within platform (3/1/2014): NextEnergy Center will secure a partnership with a charging infrastructure provider (prefer bi-directional DC wireless charging with the ability to draw from the power network and feed power to the network), install device and controls, and develop operations and testing protocols.
Energy generation and use is fundamental to everyday life, and there are a myriad of new energy technologies being developed every day. One of the major issues in adopting new energy technologies is matching energy generation to energy use in a distributed setting. Renewable energy is typically generated as DC power, converted to AC power and distributed over distances via existing grid or distributed on site via AC circuits, then converted at the device back to DC power for use. There is growing interest in using DC power networks to distribute locally generated DC power to DC devices, with potential energy savings on the order of 10 to 35%. While DC power distribution technologies are as old as electricity, the predominance of AC power for distribution has resulted in devices designed to accept and convert AC power, inherently resulting in energy losses in the conversion process.
NextEnergy is seeking financial or in-kind resources to address the analytical review and outreach/ communication efforts associated with NextHome, a stand alone DC-powered house demonstration project currently underway in Midtown Detroit. NextHome is an opportunity to better understand the technical, economic and policy potential of self contained housing units, i.e., housing units that can be delivered on-site complete with integrated locally generated power for in-home use.
NextEnergy Center will provide data on performance of DC powered systems and components within the project to be made available to partners to further advance their technology development. In addition, best practice findings and general results will be made available to researchers and policy leaders and research partners will be able to provide input to program design/ data collection/ operational protocols- helping to answer 'What's next?' in DC power for the home.