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NNSA’s laboratories have unique capabilities in modeling, simulation, performance prediction, and system design because of their vital role in the nuclear security enterprise. These capabilities have perfectly enabled NNSA’s Sandia National Laboratories to help make solar technology a powerful part of the future for U.S. industry.
Sandia recently won a three-year renewal of a Department of Energy (DOE) contract to manage the U.S. Regional Test Centers. The network of five centers in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Vermont allow companies to assess the performance, reliability, and economic viability of solar photovoltaic technologies.
The goal is to answer questions about new solar technologies to predict usability into the future across a range of businesses. Does the actual power output match what is predicted? Does the system perform consistently over time? Can the system withstand the environment? If it can’t, does it work in a different climate? In showing whether they will work reliably, the program demonstrates whether new solar technologies are a worthwhile investment and helps accelerate their adoption in U.S. businesses.
The program was launched at Sandia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2012 and currently has more than 12 industry partners and 300 kilowatts of installed solar technologies in different stages of development. The effort is funded by the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.