Adobe Stock/Simon Kraus

In Tampa's Cortez fishing village, a new community of net-zero homes will run on solar power and use Google Home to help optimize how the power is used.

Fast Company's Adele Peters writes:

“It’s going to be a grid-interactive, grid-optimized virtual power plant,” says Blake Richetta, senior vice president and head of U.S. operations at Sonnen, which is making batteries that will store solar power for the 148 new homes in the new development, called Hunters Point. The company designed its software to work with Google Home devices and interact with its system, which sends extra power into batteries or into the grid at ideal times.

During the day, for example, when homeowners are at work, Google’s Nest thermostat can start “pre-cooling” houses early. That means that solar power from the roof can be used directly. In the evening–the peak time for the electric grid–the system can gradually raise the temperature. The house will stay comfortable since it’s already cool. But the demand on the grid will be lower at a critical time when operators otherwise might have needed to rely on more fossil fuels.

Other Google devices could work with the system to find other ways to shift demand, such as running appliances when demand is low (the homes will come equipped with Wi-Fi-connected appliances from GE). Sonnen’s system could also charge electric cars when energy demand is low, or store extra power from the grid when energy is being overproduced and is cheapest.

Continue reading at Fast Company for more information about the homes.

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