Bruce King, PSEL technical lead, in front of newly installed light soaking chamber.

SandiaNational Laboratories completed a number of enhancements and expansions to its Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory (PSEL) facility to expand indoor PV module characterization capabilities at PSEL and upgrade the outdoor laboratory. A new Atonometrics Light Soaking Chamber joins PSEL’s existing module flash tester and electroluminescence chamber, giving PSEL the ability to simulate outdoor solar exposure in a continuous, controlled indoor environment. This capability will be used to study metastable electrical performance in thin-film PV modules and early degradation phenomenon in crystalline silicon PV modules. Solar cell and optical characterization equipment is now consolidated in PSEL’s new, expanded indoor laboratory space.

Home to the New Mexico Regional Test Center (RTC), PSEL’s outdoor laboratory has also received many equipment upgrades built on recent site upgrades. For example, common PV racking has been installed to accommodate up to 100 kW of new PV installations. Dubbed the Fastrack, the new installation was designed to accept PV modules of all common form factors to enable rapid deployment of systems from new RTC partners. In addition, general racking space totaling 80 kW has been installed to support PSEL’s R&D projects in bifacial and CIGS module technologies. With the rapid growth in PV installations, PSEL has become a net exporter of electricity and electrical grid-tie capacity has become strained. To address this, PSEL is partnering with Sandia’s own facilities department to install new, dedicated grid-tie capacity to enable upwards of 500 kW of additional PV.