2014 In Review: A Few of our Favorite Things

From CSE’s Grand Opening to its new partners and clients, it’s been an exciting 12 months and are looking forward to 2015.

But, before we focus on next year, we would like to recap of a few of our favorite things from 2014. Drum roll please….

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Celebrating Fraunhofer CSE’s Living Laboratory Grand Opening

After a complete energy retrofit 5 Channel Center and its Technology Showcase were unveiled to the community. On June 11, Fraunhofer CSE hosted a celebratory Grand Opening with special guests (pictured above from left to right): Prof. Dr. Georg Rosenfeld, President of Fruanhofer USA; Rolf Schuette, German Consul General for the New England States in Boston; Maeve Vallely Bartlett, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA); Dr. Christian Hoepfner, Director of Fraunhofer CSE; Dr. Philipp Ackermann, Deputy Ambassador of Germany to the US; Deval Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and Mihn Le,  Director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. DOE.

The Grand Opening showcased the CSE Living Laboratory, which functions as an innovative hub for studying solar and energy efficiency technologies. The retrofit was supported by our Building Technology Showcase Partners, a collaboration of partners from leading building industry manufacturers and businesses who donated energy-efficient systems, materials and services.

Click here to read more about the Grand Opening!


Plug and Play PV Systems Installation

Demonstrating the installation and commissioning of our novel Plug & Play PV Systems

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, the Fraunhofer CSE Plug & Play PV System is a holistic approach to residential PV that will dramatically help reduce the total installed costs of solar electricity by 2020, from $4.00/Watt to $1.50/Watt installed. On November 19, Fraunhofer CSE hosted the first public installation and interconnection of this system at the MassCEC Wind Technology Testing Center. The event featured a full system demonstration, complete with adhesive panel installation, wireless self testing, and automated permitting and inspection – all of which was completed 75 minutes.

In addition to the installation, guests heard from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Undersecretary for Energy and Environment, Mark Sylvia; City of Boston Director of Energy Policy and Programs, Bradford Swing; National Grid Director of Customer Strategy and Environmental, Carol White; Northeast Utilities Senior VP and Chief Customer Officer, Penni Conner; and DOE SunShot Initiative Tech to Market Team Manager, Dr. Lidija Sekaric, who all spoke on the importance of investing in solar and innovative technologies.

Want to learn more about Demo Day and the CSE Plug & Play PV System? Click here!


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Starting two new TechBridge Challenges on Microgrids & Manufacturing

Launched in 2010, the Fraunhofer CSE TechBridge program conducts technology validation and accelerates cleantech commercialization. Through its TechBridge Challeges, CSE works to source early-stage technology solutions for industry partners. In 2014, TechBridge launched two new Challenges on microgrids and manufacturing.

The TechBridge Microgrid Challenge received forty-four applications from around the globe and were evaluated based on the potential impact of their technology or solution to help drive microgrid adoption. XTRLs was selected in May 2014 as the Microgrid Challenge winner. Specializing in utility management technology, XTRLs provides controls system technologies to large commercial, industrial, institutional, and government customers worldwide.

The TechBridge Manufacturing Challenge focused on innovative technology solutions that significantly reduce energy, water, or material demands in manufacturing. The Challenge winner, ThermoAura, is a nanomaterials manufacturing start-up focused on the commercialization of novel thermoelectric materials. ThermoAura’s goal is to address global energy concerns by opening the door to widespread adoption of thermoelectrics.

Read more about TechBridge and the Challenges here!


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Reporting for CEA on Consumer Electronics Energy Consumption in U.S. Homes

In June, Fraunhofer CSE completed another report for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA®) to quantify the electricity consumption of consumer electronics (CE) in U.S. households in 2013. In this study, CSE estimated how many hours each device was being used in different power modes. In the end, CSE estimated 169 TWh were consumed in 2013 by 3.8 billion CE in U.S. homes, an amount equal to 12% of residential electricity consumption. This is amounts to a 12% decline between 2010 and 2013.

This study drew a lot of attention among the consumer electronics industry and journalists, resulting in follow-up articles by Forbes, MIT Technology Review, and Home Toys. Be sure to keep your eyes open for our 2016 study!

Read the complete report here!


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Partnering with Nest Labs to develop new U.S. EPA Energy Savings Standards for Smart Thermostats

In July, Fraunhofer CSE and Nest Labs co-developed a new data-driven framework for comparing the energy performance of residential thermostats. This paper identifies the key challenges facing thermostat assessment and proposes a framework that can help overcome those challenges.Savings due to setpoint adjustments (largely behavioral and highly variable) are addressed separately from more automated HVAC-control based savings (largely mechanical and more consistent). We conclude with an illustrative example of a data-driven simulation approach for quantifying setpoint-based performance using anonymous data from selected thermostat users.

Read the full report here!


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Developing Attic Retrofit Solutions for Massachusetts Triple Deckers

At the end of 2013, Fraunhofer CSE completed a report for the Massachusetts Technology Advisory Committee (MTAC) that proposed retrofit strategy options to increase insulation levels of the roofs of triple-decker houses (the New England style house pictured above). This preliminary study focused on 5 different options for improving the insulation levels. MTAC selected two retrofit strategies for further analysis:

  1. Air-sealing the triple-decker ceiling from the top of the attic floor using a newly developed sealer, then blowing cellulose on top of the sealer (Option 2-3).
  2. Installing spray foam on top of the existing triple decker roof (Option 4).

In 2014, CSE executed another study, investigating the two options above in much more detail, while also looking at the potential energy savings from retrofitting a triple-decker roof to a specific R value.


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Hosting Fraunhofer USA’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

2014 marked the 20th anniversary of CSE’s parent company Fraunhofer USA. To commemorate this milestone, over 200 guests gathered at Fraunhofer CSE for an evening of thought-provoking discussion, networking, and celebrating. Guest speakers included  Fraunhofer USA’s current President, Prof. Georg Rosenfeld; German Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Peter Wittig; Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft President Prof. Reimund Neugebauer; City of Boston Chief of Energy and Environment, Brian Swett; and Commonwealth of Massachusetts Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs, Maeve Valley-Bartlett.

Following the welcome addresses, WBUR’s Business & Technology Reporter Curt Nickisch led a panel discussion on economic development and technology innovation. Representing a wide array of industries and sectors, panel members included Fraunhofer USA’s new President, Frank Treppe; Boston University President, Robert Brown; MassCEC CEO, Alicia Barton; Former BMW USA Manufacturing President, Prof. Clemens Schmitz-Justen; Mass Life Sciences Center CEO, Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister; and U.S. Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office Director, Frank Gayle.  Panelists touched on different aspects that spur technology development (possibilities for collaboration; changes to public policy and education and cultural mindsets) and their thoughts on how to keep innovating.

Read more about the Fraunhofer USA 20th Anniversary!


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Starting our Nanogrid Development at our Albuquerque Laboratory

In addition to our Boston headquarters, CSE also has a laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has extensive outdoor testing facilities (pictured above). Throughout 2014, Fraunhofer CSE has been putting plans in place to expand our project portfolio in nanogrid development in both Boston and Albuquerque. In early 2015, CSE will deploy a 5kW flexible nanogrid testbed that emulates a grid-connected “smart home”, including controllable loads, storage, and solar.  The nanogrid testbed will be used to demonstrate and test the emerging hardware and control strategies that will be needed to integrate distributed renewables and energy efficient buildings into our power distribution system.

Look out for grid technologies research next year!

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