MnSEIA Joins NREL’s Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) Team


MnSEIA’s Team Forges Ahead to Help Pair Electric Vehicles with Photovoltaics

Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 10, 2018 – The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) announced its selection by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to participate in a collaborative research effort to explore new ways solar energy can improve the affordability, reliability, and resiliency of the nation’s electric grid.

The selected team is led by the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and is comprised of MnSEIA, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Administration, Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit, Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment, and ZEF Energy. The team’s overall project goals include improving grid flexibility and resiliency through advanced siting and operations of solar distributed energy resources (DER). This cohort includes individual team efforts involving technological and market deployment synergies between Electric Vehicles (EVs) and solar distributed generation (PV) using EV charging to add value to distributed solar, or “EV + PV.” MnSEIA is part of just nine teams selected to join the program, which is known as the Solar Energy Innovation Network.

“We selected teams that are experimenting with promising ideas to use solar power to improve the future of grid security and reliability in their communities,” said Kristen Ardani, who leads the Innovation Network at NREL.

MnSEIA’s team participation in the Solar Energy Innovation Network will include financial, analytical, and facilitation support as it works to anticipate and address new challenges and opportunities stemming from solar energy and other distributed energy technologies in Minnesota. The solutions developed and demonstrated by the GPI-led team will serve as a blueprint for other communities facing similar challenges and opportunities.

Specifically, this project will include Minnesota-based pilot projects to address logistic and technical barriers, and to find implementable solutions for pairing “EV + PV” at several levels.

“The value of solar+EV technology differs depending on whether it’s residential use, workplace charging, or fleet charging,” said Brian Ross, the GPI project manager. “Solar+EV opportunities also change for different types of utilities in terms of meeting electric load, improving grid utilization, and avoiding costly upgrades. To capture these benefits, we need see if we can create market-driven development opportunities for solar developers, utilities, and property owners, and the Solar Energy Innovation Network project gives us that opportunity.”

This project is innovative because it addresses the challenges that must be confronted to implement and host widespread adoption of electric vehicles with solar installations at the residential, commercial, fleet and utility levels. This innovative team approach will also enhance statewide grid flexibility and resiliency.  

“We are effectively communicating the value proposition of EVs paired with PV to important stakeholders, including our solar industry business leaders and their customers, the public, local government officials, and utilities to launch this work directly into Minnesota’s solar market,” says Liz Lucente, MnSEIA Communications Director & General Counsel.

With this effort, MnSEIA hopes to see the same trajectory of consumer demand and expectations for “EV + PV” as an amenity as was recently enjoyed by the Wi-Fi boom: Wi-Fi is now a presumed amenity for most consumers in public and private business environments, and MnSEIA hopes to see a similar boom in consumer “EV + PV” expectations.

NREL is operating the Solar Energy Innovation Network with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. NREL pursues fundamental research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies to transform the way we use energy.

About Selectee Organization

The Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit trade association with a mission to move Minnesota solar forward in the regulatory, legislative, administrative and policy arenas. MnSEIA represents the voice of Minnesota’s solar industry and is comprised of over 100 high-quality solar industry business members spanning all major solar industry sectors.