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Fraunhofer Center Opens Outdoor Solar Module Testing Facility in New Mexico

Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Development (CSE) has announced the opening of its new outdoor photovoltaic test field, called OTF-1 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This new field test facility is an extension of CSE’s existing Albuquerque solar research annex, which began operation in 2011.

Solar panels via Waynenf

The facility aims to provide support to PV modules and its components manufacturers in assessing the on-field performance and durability of its products. It will also help system integrators to obtain the crucial data to meet performance standards and lifetime expectations.

The new facility will provide performance and durability testing services, such as analysis of individual modules and components, strings or grid-tied systems, stabilization with continuous monitoring under open circuit, short circuit, and/or max power point conditions, and inverter DC/AC power conversion analysis. The test field will also allow for testing of products and components which are not yet certified for UL, IEC, or similar listings.

The new facility at Albuquerque to test solar panels makes sense because of 310 days of direct sunshine annually, officials said. The site is well equipped with both variable angle mounting systems and dual axis trackers to fully exploit ideal conditions for testing PV modules.

“OTF-1 will be an important resource for our customers,” said Dr. Christian Hoepfner, Scientific Director at Fraunhofer CSE. “With annual PV installation at the multi-gigawatt scale, the industry needs enhanced feedback on actual field performance and durability of both existing and new PV technologies. This facility reinforces our commitment to conducting cutting-edge solar research for our clients, and gives our experienced technical team the flexibility to accommodate a broad range of solar power performance testing projects.”

OTF-1 is the second testing outdoor facility operated and maintained by Fraunhofer CSE. The first is at Revere, Massachusetts, co-located at a 750-kW plant operated by National Grid. The Fraunhofer Center is constructing another test site in Albuquerque that will provide an additional five acres of test beds.

The commercialization and bankability of the products can be increased after obtaining the test verification from the independent, non-profit research and development organisations like Fraunhofer CSE.

Testing facilities like these will help to bridge the gap between laboratory testing and wide-scale application of clean energy technologies.

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views only

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Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.


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