Sandia Solar Programs Newsletter - March 2015

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Latest Sandia Solar Programs News & Research


The Sandia Solar Programs e-newsletter features highlights, key activities, events, and publications. Current and archived newsletters are available via the Recent Solar Highlights link 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

Heliostat and falling particle receiver

Sandia CSP Group Performs First On-Sun Testing of Falling Particle Receiver System

In March, Sandia’s concentrating solar power research team performed a first-of-its-kind on-sun testing of a 1-MWth (megawatt-thermal) continuously recirculating falling particle receiver system. During the test, which was performed on-ground at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility, a single heliostat was used to illuminate particles falling over discrete porous structures in a cavity receiver at different particle mass flow rates. Temperatures were recorded to measure temperature rise and heat loss from the system, and ray-tracing was performed to compare model predictions of solar flux to measured irradiance values. Comparisons of the predicted and measured flux distributions at different times of the day aligned well, and the prototype system performed to expectations.

The next step in on-ground testing will be to aim four heliostats in the front row of Sandia’s field at the falling particle receiver. The prototype system will then be lifted to the top of the top of the tower for additional on-sun testing in May or June. The tests are a collaboration among Sandia, Georgia Tech, Bucknell University, German aerospace center DLR, and King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

Photos: Top left: A professor from Georgia Tech and Sandia's Nate Seigel watch the heliostat beam fall onto the 25-ft. tall falling particle receiver at NSTTF. Top right (above Upcoming Events): The falling particle receiver cavity at NSTTF, with an elliptical beam as reflected at 2:01 p.m. MT. At solar noon (1:16 p.m. MT on test day), the beam is nearly circular.

Sandia Research Published in PV Tech Power

Sandia solar research scientists were recently featured in the second edition of PV Tech Power (free subscription required), a quarterly journal published by Solar Media Limited (UK). In the feature article, Sandia PV researchers discuss why monitoring of solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant operation often fails to identify problems such monitoring should detect. The Sandia team also presents findings from lab research into more effective monitoring strategies that can minimize plant energy losses.

Sandian to Highlight Global Grid Codes at SunSpec Event

Sandia solar researcher Jay Johnson will speak at the SunSpec Alliance’s 2015 Annual Members Meeting on March 31 in San Francisco. Johnson will be speaking about changing grid codes around the world. He will also discuss Sandia’s work on the California Solar Initiative Solicitation 4 (CSI4) project, a collaborative effort led by the Electric Power Research Institute. The objective of the work is to develop and demonstrate advanced inverters with standardized functionality and an open communication interface that can meet the interconnection requirements of California Rule 21. Sandia leads the development of inverter test procedures and implementation of smart inverter functions for the project.

The SunSpec Alliance is a global trade organization that pursues open information standards for distributed energy, including those applying to PV power plants on the smart grid. The event audience represents a cross-section of the distributed energy industry, including asset owners/fleet operators, equipment providers, project developers, and financiers.

Sandia Research Published in Solar Energy Journal

A Sandia research paper, “Predicting the spectral effects of soils on high concentrating photovoltaic systems,” recently published in Solar Energy Journal (Volume 112, February 2015, pp. 469-474). The paper highlights research to predict soiling losses, particularly accumulated soiling, for high concentrating photovoltaic systems using measured UV/vis transmittance through soiled films. Sandia researchers and report authors Patrick Burton, Bruce King, and Dan Riley performed the work.

Sandian Leads Discussion on O&M Standards at Solar Power Generation USA

Sandia solar researcher Geoff Klise joined the SunSpec Alliance to lead a discussion at Solar Power Generation USA on February 5, 2015, in San Diego, CA. The objective of the conversation was to identify ways to streamline process and maximize output using industry-wide standards that define operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures and provide collective solutions to fault correction. Focus areas for the discussion included improving overall prospects for new solar technologies; improving reliability through standards; creating traceability for solar components to reduce downtime; enhancing the solar workforce through standards creation; and using greater reliability to increase safety. Klise also addressed achieving energy security through a reliability-focused approach for solar photovoltaic system O&M.  

Additional Coverage of DOI Secretary Jewell’s Visit to Sandia

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined the U.S. Department of Defense, Senator Martin Heinrich, and U.S Representative Ben Ray Lujan for a tour of the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF) at Sandia in early January. During her visit to NSTTF, Jewell announced approval of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project. Additional articles about the visit appeared in the Albuquerque Journal and Albuquerque Business First.

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.

View of beam reflected from heliostat onto falling particle receiver

Upcoming Events

Solar Summit 2015, Phoenix, AZ, Apr. 14-16, 2015

Utility Solar Conference, San Diego, CA, April 27-29, 2015

Distributed Solar East 2015, Washington, DC, May 12-15, 2015

42nd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, Jun. 14-19, 2015, New Orleans, LA

Intersolar North America, San Francisco, CA, Jul. 13-15, 2015

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