SunSpec: Smart inverter communication now a national standard, here’s what comes next

SunSpec: Smart inverter communication now a national standard, here’s what comes next

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On May 21, 2020, the IEEE 1547.1-2020 standard was officially published, making smart inverters with standard communication interfaces the official U.S. national standard for Distributed Energy Resources (DER).

This news comes via the SunSpec Alliance, a trade alliance of more than 100 solar and storage distributed energy industry participants that is dedicated to pursuing information standards to enable “plug & play” system interoperability. Publication of this test procedure document is one of their babies, and here are some the reasons they say it is important:

• It officially validates the pioneering California smart inverter effort by incorporating the electrical functionality defined in CA Rule 21 and by naming the IEEE 2030.5-2018 protocol — the default DER-to-utility communication protocol chosen by California–as a U.S. national standard. It also clarifies the timeframe for CA Rule 21 phase 3 capabilities.

• It also establishes SunSpec Modbus as a natural option for meeting IEEE 1547 data communication requirements at the device level.

• It sets the stage for a 50-state rollout, and perhaps global rollout, of interoperable and fully-communicating smart inverters.

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In conjunction with this announcement, SunSpec ecosystem software developers and implementers should be advised of several things:

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• The SunSpec 700 series information models for IEEE 1547 will be promoted from TEST publication status to APPROVED status within the next 45 days, thus superseding the SunSpec Modbus 100 series models that were first introduced in 2009. All SunSpec Modbus projects that are intended for completion and certification in the second half of 2020 should use 700 series models.

• SunSpec Dashboard, the Windows-based software for SunSpec Modbus interface development, will likewise be upgraded with a product called SunSpec System Validation Platform (SVP) Dashboard Core. This product will be enteried beta testing today.

If you are planning to upgrade existing SunSpec Certified products to the new IEEE 1547 standard and would like to understand your options, they are offering no-charge consultations. Just reach out.

— Solar Builder magazine

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