The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Regional Test Center (RTC) Program for Solar Technologies is a network of outdoor testing facilities managed by Sandia National Laboratories in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The RTC sites are located in the major climate regions of the United States to develop standards and guidelines to validate the performance and operation of photovoltaic (PV) modules and systems under a variety of field conditions over time.
RTCs also serve as test beds for the domestic photovoltaic (PV) industry, enabling manufacturers to understand how a technology performs across different climates. This independent, accurate, and unbiased field testing enables performance validation that can lead to greater reliability and lower costs, which supports the goals of Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). Testing of industry PV products also serves to increase investor confidence in PV technologies.
RTCs provide the land, grid integration, and large-scale testing and data monitoring necessary to:
- Validate the performance of PV systems;
- Verify and validate models used to predict performance;
- Collect detailed operations and maintenance data;
- Assess PV module quality, degradation rates, and system reliability issues; and
- Investigate the role of various environmental factors on the reliability, durability, and safety of PV technologies.
Recipients of technical assistance through the RTCs can have identical PV installations assessed at each of the regional sites:
- Denver, Colorado: Located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this RTC provides testing within a steppe climate.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico: Located at the National Solar Test Facility (NSTTF), this RTC is managed by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and provides testing within a hot-dry climate.
- Las Vegas, Nevada: Led by Sandia National Laboratories, the Las Vegas Valley Water District, and the University of Nevada's Center for Energy Research, this RTC will accommodate as many as eight installations of PV systems.
- Orlando, Florida: Managed by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), this RTC provides testing within a hot-humid climate.