Regional Test Centers for Solar Technologies

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Regional Test Centers RTC

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At the Regional Test Centers (RTCs) throughout the United States, DOE provides photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) validation testing and systems monitoring for businesses and other industry stakeholders. The primary mission of the RTCs is to develop standards and guidelines for validating the performance and operation of PV modules and systems. The RTCs also serve as test beds for large-scale systems and provide independent validation of PV performance and reliability.

By establishing the technical basis for bankability, the RTCs serve to increase investor confidence in PV technologies. These efforts support the SunShot Initiative's goal to reduce the total installed cost of solar energy systems to $.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2020.

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
  • 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 five regional sites:

  1. Denver, Colorado: Located at the Solar Technology Acceleration Center (SolarTAC) in Colorado, this RTC is managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and provides testing within a steppe climate. This center received $4,620,297 from FY2011 to FY2015. 
  2. 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. This center received $9,549,713 from FY2011 to FY2015. 
  3. 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. This center received $813,769 from FY2011 to FY2015. 
  4. Orlando, Florida: Managed by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), this RTC provides testing within a hot-humid climate. This center received $1,410,679 from FY2011 to FY2015. 
  5. Williston, Vermont: Located on IBM property, this RTC will focus on performance data and support collaborative research related to the integration of PV technologies into Vermont's statewide electrical grid. This center received $2,570,589 from FY2011 to FY2015. 

Learn more about the Regional Test Centers.