We conduct research and development (R&D) in solar power, including photovoltaics and concentrating solar power, to strengthen the U.S. solar industry and improve the manufacturability, reliability, and cost competitiveness of solar energy technologies and systems.
Using mirrors to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a small area where the concentrated light is converted to heat, which drives a generator.
Sandia Labs’ solar photovoltaic (PV) work is focused on developing cost-effective, reliable photovoltaic energy systems and accelerating the integration of PV technology in the United States and globally. The Labs’ PV department provides the technical lead for systems integration and balance-of-systems manufacturing technologies as well as technical support to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in deployment and validation of PV systems for federal agencies, utilities, and other institutional users. Sandia assists industry and users by providing technical assistance, accurate performance measurements, component development and improvement, and system evaluation. A major thrust of the department is to evaluate and improve the performance, reliability, and cost effectiveness of systems and balance-of-systems components.
Sandia’s PV research staff work collaboratively with DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Program, the U.S. photovoltaic industry, other government agencies and national laboratories, and international organizations to increase the worldwide use of PV power systems by reducing cost, improving reliability, increasing performance, removing barriers, and growing markets.
Supporting the development and improvement of solar PV technologies, and providing skilled testing and evaluation of all PV components, including cells, modules, inverters, and balance of system components.
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) uses mirrors to concentrate a large area of sunlight, onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is converted to heat which drives a generator.
In virtually all applications CSP is large power, on the order of 100 MW or larger, that is used by utilities to generate electricity and distribute to consumers. In a CSP plant, solar energy is converted to heat and the heat is used in a conventional power cycle or other heat engine to produce mechanical power and drive a generator.
This unique facility provides experimental engineering data for the design, construction, and operation of unique components and systems in proposed solar thermal electrical plants; planned for large-scale power generation. At 200 feet tall, the NSTTF’s distinct height advantage along with its heat capabilities, offers a unique and complete testing environment to government contractors and agencies, research institutes, universities and private companies.
Researchers from Sandia’s energy programs have organized three symposia for the 2018 MRS Spring Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. The symposia sessions will discuss topics that include flow batteries for grid energy storage, harvesting natural and [...]
Photo courtesy of UNM Alumni Association: Kenneth Armijo at Sandia's National Solar Thermal Test Facility. Kenneth Armijo, a senior member of technical staff in Sandia’s Concentrating Solar Technologies department, was recently featured in [...]
Sandra Begay speaking at the Solar Toolkit launch held by Senator Martin Heinrich at the CNM Workforce Training Center. Sandia’s Indian Energy program lead Sandra Begay and Renewable Energy Technologies senior manager Amy [...]
Solar glare reflections and avian solar-flux hazards are an important concern for concentrating solar installations. Reflected sunlight from “standby” heliostats has been noted by pilots as potentially hazardous, and reports of birds being singed by [...]