Sandia Solar Programs Newsletter

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Latest Sandia Solar Programs News & Research


The Sandia Solar Programs e-newsletter features highlights, key activities, events, and publications. News is also available on Sandia’s Energy and Climate website. We welcome your feedback. Please e-mail comments and suggestions to We hope you enjoy this valuable resource!

Research Updates

Sandia's PVSENSOR Project array

Sandia Research Aims to Enhance Understanding of Radiometric Instruments

Sandia National Laboratories and Photovoltaic (PV) Performance Labs, Inc. have partnered on the PVSENSOR project. This joint research effort aims to measure, characterize, and understand the intricacies of modern radiometric instruments. Such instruments are used to measure the amount of sunlight impinging on a plane and are primarily used as reference devices for PV systems.

Two identical sets of 21 radiometers are assembled on mounting planes on a two-axis solar tracker at Sandia’s Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Lab (PSEL). After an initial characterization phase, one set of the instruments will be shipped to Germany for year-long testing at PV Performance Labs, while the other set is tested at PSEL.

The performance of different radiometers may vary due to factors such as temperature, incident angle and spectral content of incoming light, and temporal response to light level changes. The PVSENSOR project will provide data on the performance of radiometric instruments to PV system designers and modelers, helping them to select appropriate and cost-effective reference devices for use in PV systems.

Registration and Final Agenda Available for 4th PV Performance Modeling Workshop

Registration continues for the 4th PV Performance Modeling Workshop in Cologne, Germany, October 22–23, 2015. Sandia is partnering with TUV Rheinland and the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme Task 13 to host the workshop, which will convene solar photovoltaic (PV) professionals and researchers to discuss critical, innovative technical issues related to PV performance modeling. Sessions for the 2015 workshop include solar resource data and uncertainty; soiling models; spectral corrections; bifacial PV performance array modeling; updates about modeling tools; and field modeling and validation of PV performance models. The registration fee is 300EUR (including VAT). The final agenda is available on TUV’s website.

Sandia PV and Distributed Systems Program Manager Recognized for STEM Contributions

Abraham Ellis, manager of Sandia’s Photovoltaics (PV) and Distributed Systems Department, has been recognized with a 2015 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC) award by Great Minds in STEM (GMiS).

Ellis was selected as an awardee for Outstanding Technical Achievement. Nominees for this category must have made significant technological contributions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through key research or design, development, management or assistance for a product, service, system, or intellectual property. Some of Ellis’ achievements recognized by HENAAC were related to work funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.

Ellis and other awardees will be recognized at GMiS’s 27th Annual HENAAC event in Pasadena, Calif., in October.

Stion PV installation at New Mexico RTC

Stion Commissions PV System at Sandia Regional Test Center

Thin-film solar module manufacturer Stion has commissioned a 12-kW fixed latitude ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) system at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) New Mexico Regional Test Center (RTC), located at Sandia. The system will be monitored and tested to collect a range of data related to the system’s performance and reliability in New Mexico’s hot, arid climate.

DOE’s SunShot Initiative established five RTCs across the United States to independently validate the performance and reliability of PV and concentrated PV systems in various weather and climate conditions. The objectives are to collect performance data that can support commercialization of new technologies, facilitate development of standardized protocols for PV system validation, and accelerate PV deployment through the United States.

Sandia co-manages the RTC program with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Commercial partners are invited to submit their interest in hosting a system at the RTCs.

Falling particle receiver at the top of the solar thermal tower at Sandia

Sandia’s CSP Falling Particle Receiver Project Featured on KOAT News

Sandia’s research on a prototype falling particle receiver at the lab’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility was featured recently on Albuquerque’s KOAT-TV news. The story, “New Solar Power Technology: Could Get Power on Cloudy Days,” features Sandia concentrating solar power (CSP) researcher Cliff Ho discussing how the receiver’s high temperatures and heat exchanger can facilitate storage of the generated solar power even when the skies are cloudy.

The receiver drops ceramic particles through a beam of concentrated sunlight that heats the particles to temperatures that can exceed 700 degrees Celsius. The particles are stored in an insulated tank, providing energy to the CSP system as needed. The receiver’s ability to withstand high temperatures means less material is required and more energy is available, so efficiency is increased while cost is reduced.

Sandia has been testing the solar particle receiver since March. The system was first tested on-ground, and then moved to the top of the tower in June.  The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and is a collaborative effort of Sandia, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Bucknell University, King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, and the German Aerospace Center.

Sandia’s Support to IEEE 1547 Recognized in EERE Success Story

A success story published by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) highlights research funded by DOE’s SunShot Initiative that contributed to the passing of IEEE’s 1547.1a. The amendment standardizes inverter testing procedures for three advanced inverter functionalities and creates two new tests to assess the ability of inverters to respond to abnormal frequency conditions and to regulate voltage. Sandia conducted research to support the updated standard. The lab’s work including development and validation of test procedures for grid interoperability, validation of measurement capabilities for distributed energy resources, and establishment of test protocols for advanced inverter functionality. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory also supported the amendment. The full success story is available on EERE’s website.

Webinar Scheduled for Sandia Rooftop PV Structural Report

Results from the Sandia research reports, Structural Code Considerations of Solar Rooftop Installations and Empirically Derived Strength of Residential Roof Structure for Solar Installations, will be featured in an upcoming webinar hosted by the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN). Sandia Principal Investigator Stephen Dwyer will discuss implications of the report for solar installers.

The webinar is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 22. The event is free and registration is required. The SITN is funded by DOE’s SunShot Initiative and managed by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

The reports detail research conducted by Sandia and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) SunShot Initiative to test numerous wood rooftop structures to failure and compare actual rooftop load-bearing capacity data to the perceived load-bearing capacity in building. Results indicate that rooftop load-bearing capacity is higher than allowable loads as defined by the International Residential Code (2009).

Recent Publications

External Link Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement of the external Web site, the information, products or services contained therein.

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Upcoming Events

4th PV Performance Modeling Workshop, Cologne, Germany, Oct. 22-23, 2015

Solar Power International, Anaheim, CA, Sept. 14-17, 2015

European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, Hamburg, Germany, Sept. 14-18, 2015

SolarPACES 2015, Cape Town, South Africa, Oct. 13-16, 2015

U.S. Solar Market Insight, San Diego, CA, Nov. 2-4, 2015

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