Researchers attending the 2024 High Latitude PV Workshop in Sweden March 14-15, 2024, visited the Solvåg (Solar Wave) system in Piteå. (Photo by Joshua Stein)

2024 High Latitude Photovoltaics Workshop advances northern PV collaboration

April 22, 2024 9:52 am Published by

The inaugural 2024 High Latitude Photovoltaics Workshop took place at 65° latitude in Piteå, Sweden, on March 14-15, 2024, to exchange ideas around the unique opportunities and challenges of deploying solar photovoltaic technology in high-latitude regions. The successful workshop was the culmination of years of work by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and their partners, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Research Institutes of Sweden and the U.S. Department of Energy Arctic Energy Office.

“High-latitude regions are on the front lines of climate change and have lots to gain by reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. The Arctic climate is warming up to four times faster than lower-latitude regions and these changes are challenging communities in many ways,” said Sandia solar energy researcher, Joshua Stein, who helped plan the workshop.

Nearly 50 researchers and industry representatives from nine countries attended workshop sessions on Country Reports, modeling PV performance in high latitudes, PV reliability issues, a panel discussion on Industry Perspectives, and examples of PV Integration in High Latitudes. Participants discussed the opportunities presented by high-latitude solar deployment, as well as ways to address the challenges in this environment, including extreme weather, heavy snow loads, high winds and extreme cold temperatures that increase the risk of equipment failure from mechanical loading and material property changes.

The workshop also featured two site visits: one to a 100 kW vertical bifacial PV pilot plant installed by Sunna Group and a fixed-tilt PV plant owned and operated by Luleå Energy, and the other to the Piteå Solvåg, an art installation composed of bifacial PV modules.

During a morning field trip, researchers visited the vertical bifacial PV pilot plant from Sunna Group. (Photo by Joshua Stein)

Workshop outcomes will be shared in a review paper highlighting current needs and best practices, with the goal of informing policy makers and advancing PV deployment in high latitudes. The next high-latitude PV event is already in the planning stage, and the organizing committee continues to gather and connect researchers for future collaborations.

“Some people ask me, ‘Why solar in the Arctic?’ and ‘Is there enough sunshine?’” Apart from cloudy conditions there is the same total amount of daytime over the year everywhere on the planet. It just gets to be more seasonal nearer the poles. Arctic days are very long, and this presents an ample opportunity to use solar energy during these periods. If we can figure out how to make solar PV work in the Arctic, it can work almost anywhere,” said Stein.

Download the complete workshop program and presentations.

Learn more about Sandia National Laboratories’ PV Performance Modeling Collaborative (PVPMC) and Photovoltaic Solar Energy program.

Watch the DOE Arctic Energy Office’s “Minute With Mike: Energy Landscape in Sweden” podcast, covering recent international engagements, history, and energy innovations in the Arctic.

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