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SUNY Erie: Solar Energy Basics

July 26 | 8:00 am - August 13 | 5:00 pm PDT

Date: Starting July 26th, 2021

Course Number:

Credits: 1.00 unit(s)

Related Certificate Programs:

For questions related to this course visit sunspeccyberguardians.org or contact membership@sunspec.org.

About the Course:

California’s law requiring solar PV on every new residential structure, rooftop solar PV, often paired with energy storage, will soon be ubiquitous in the United States. Recognizing this trend and its potential impact on human safety, the National Fire Protection Association introduced new requirements for rooftop solar PV systems in the 2017 edition of “NFPA 70: National Electrical Code®” (a.k.a. NEC 2017). Section 690.12 of NEC 2017, “Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings,” requires conductors inside-the-array boundary to be de-energized to 80 volts or less within 30 seconds of initiating a rapid shutdown event. This requirement came into force on January 1, 2020 and is now in effect in 34 states.

While it is possible for solar PV product manufacturers and integrators to fulfill NEC 2017 Rapid Shutdown requirements without a supporting communication system to detect faults and re-energize PV modules, it is more common that a communication system—using Power Line Communications (PLC) or wireless technology—is used for this purpose.

This course is an examination of data communication technologies, deployment techniques, and regulatory considerations associated with PV module rapid shutdown solutions. The course is intended for students interested in exploring technical (e.g. engineering, component design, system design), professional (e.g. solar project development, regulatory compliance, energy policy, supply chain management) and vocational (e.g. system installation, operations & maintenance, site monitoring) careers in the rapidly growing solar energy industry. Students will acquire a foundation in the basic data communication concepts associated with PV module communication solutions and the regulated operating environments these solutions exist within.

This is a self-paced course with all assignments, quizzes, and final exams due by the end date of the course.  We strongly recommend that you make weekly progress in the lessons, quizzes and assignments. Should you need assistance, weekly virtual office hours are available or you may email the instructor at any time.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will understand:

  • How PV module rapid shutdown regulations came into being and are evolving over time.
  • Comparative advantages of proprietary- and standards-based PV module communication
  • Comparative advantages of PLC and wireless protocols in the solar PV environment.
  • Single-PV module and multi-PV module rapid shutdown system configurations.
  • The definition of Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE) and the functions MLPE solutions
  • Regulatory bodies relevant to PV module rapid shutdown and data communication.
  • End user, first responder, and Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) considerations.
  • Testing, certification and marking considerations.
  • Rapid shutdown solutions in the market today.


July 26 | 8:00 am PDT
August 13 | 5:00 pm PDT
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