Sandia National Laboratories has published the first annual report detailing the progress of the US Department of Energy’s Regional Test Center (RTC) program, which is now working with 20 industry partners and has installed 549kW of cutting-edge PV technologies at five sites. Managed by Sandia Labs in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the RTC program provides the infrastructure and expertise needed to measure and analyze the performance of new solar technologies in multiple climates. The data delivered by the program contributes to the following:

  • Increased investor and customer confidence in new, more-efficient technologies (bankability)
  • Identification and troubleshooting of technical issues that may be climate-specific
  • Growth of installed solar in the US, especially in regions where long-term field performance is not well understood
  • Research community’s understanding of the many geographic and climatic variables that impact PV performance and reliability

PROGRAM OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVES

With five facilities located in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont, and Florida, the RTC program provides a validation platform for new solar technologies in climates spanning different combinations of hot, cold, dry, and humid. Launched in 2011, the program is rooted in technical excellence, leveraging national laboratory expertise in systems characterization and PV modeling to validate the cross-climate performance of cutting-edge modules and other emerging technologies. Overall, the RTCs support US manufacturers by providing confidential multi-climate, multi-year field assessments of their products to accelerate the technology-to-market pipeline. The RTC program partners with industry partners ranging from startups to multinational companies, focusing on technical innovation, manufacturability, and marketability.

A VALUED NATIONAL RESOURCE

Access to the technical excellence and expertise at the national labs, five climatically distinct RTC sites, and high-fidelity meteorological and performance data analyzed by the national labs brings unique value to industry partners. The technical approach executed by the RTC program, which ranges from baseline characterization to high-resolution data monitoring and analysis, results in a series of performance reports authored by national laboratory scientists that document the performance and reliability of equipment provided by manufacturers. Those reports are shared only with the manufacturer, who may in turn disseminate them as desired.

THE FIVE RTC SITES

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico – Located in a high-irradiance, high-desert climate at Sandia National Laboratories, the site currently has a total of 133.7 kW installed, with 60 kW planned for 2017. This site serves as the hub for the RTC program.
  • Cocoa Beach, Florida – Located in a hot and humid climate at the Florida Solar Energy Center managed by the University of Central Florida, this site currently has a total of 63.8 kW installed with an additional 52.8 kW planned in 2017.
  • Williston, Vermont – Located in a cold and humid climate on land owned and managed by GlobalFoundries, this site has 149 kW of PV installed and has reached half of its total capacity.
  • Henderson, Nevada – Located in a hot, high-irradiance climate, this site has a total of 103 kW installed, including both PV and CPV.
  • Golden, Colorado – Located in a cold and dry climate at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this site has a total of 99.6 kW installed. With US solar jobs growing by almost 25% in 2016, solar energy has recently become one of the most economical and fastest growing forms of new electrical generation capacity. The RTCs support the nation’s interests in energy security by helping US industry produce and deploy the highest quality solar PV technologies.

RTC PATH TO SUCCESS

With US solar jobs growing by almost 25% in 2016, solar energy has recently become one of the most economical and fastest growing forms of new electrical generation capacity. The RTCs support the nation’s interests in energy security by helping US industry produce and deploy the highest quality solar PV technologies.

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