Leading US residential solar installer SolarCity has launched a smart home pilot project in California in partnership with the SunSpec Alliance and Southern California Edison.

The 50-home scheme will see houses installed with solar, storage, controllable thermostats and smart inverters in areas covered by Southern California Edison.

It is hoped that the test run will offer some information on the benefits of integrating solar into the grid and the ancillary benefits that can in turn be offered to the grid and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) market.

“We plan to demonstrate the magnitude of benefits that smart energy homes, made of numerous aggregated technologies, can offer to customers, the distribution grid, and wholesale markets,” said Ryan Hanley, senior director of grid engineering solutions, SolarCity. “We are pleased to partner with the SunSpec Alliance and its member companies on this important project,” he added in a statement on the company’s website.

The SunSpec Alliance includes manufacturers, researchers and developers and looks to address the technical challenges of greater distributed energy generation.

The project won a tender launched by the California energy Commission (CEC) to explore improvements to distributed generation and its interaction with the grid. CEC and SolarCity are investing US$2 million each in the pilot.