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About National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the only national laboratory solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency. As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Small Business Vouchers Pilot, NREL will connect clean energy innovators across the country with top-notch scientists, engineers, and analysts, as well as world-class facilities for research focusing on photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), systems integration, and balance of systems (BOS).

Capabilities

NREL staff provides grid-integration support, system-level testing, systems analysis, and development of standards and codes to address interconnection barriers.

NREL's solar capabilities include:

PV Materials and Device Development: Study of high-efficiency crystalline PV technologies; commercial and emerging thin-film technologies.

PV Measurements and Characterization: Study of the science of solar materials using spectroscopic and computational tools, analytical microscopic and imaging techniques, interfacial and surface properties of materials and devices.

PV Cell and Module Performance: Assessment of the performance of PV cells and modules using current-voltage and quantum efficiency techniques.

PV Reliability and Systems Engineering: Measurement and analysis of the operational performance of PV modules; engineering analysis and mitigation studies; and testing.

CSP Collectors and Receivers: Development of high-temperature receivers; lab and field characterization of collectors and receivers using VSHOT® and SOFAST.

Thermal Energy Storage: Study of thermo-physical properties of storage material and heat-transfer fluids, simulation of flow of thermal energy over time, corrosion studies for piping and storage-tank applications.

Advanced Reflector and Absorber Materials: Development and characterization of materials and coatings for CSP reflectors and absorbers.

CSP Modeling and Analysis: Development and use of software to select sites, optimize designs, evaluate costs and performance.

Solar Resource Assessment: Expertise in solar resource measurement, instrument calibration and characterization, and standards development.

Distributed Grid Integration: Research focus areas include data collection and visualization, energy storage, microgrids, and power electronics.

Transmission Grid Integration: Research on transmission and grid integration issues and providing data, analysis, and models to enable the electric power system.

Facilities

NREL provides industry, government, and university researchers with access to state-of-the-art and unique techniques and tools for analyzing a wide spectrum of solar technologies and innovations.

NREL solar facilities include:

  • Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF): The nation's premier facility capable of conducting integrated megawatt-scale research and development of the components and strategies needed to move clean energy technologies onto the electrical grid.
  • Outdoor Test Facility (OTF): Allows researchers to study and evaluate the performance of PV modules and systems under prevailing outdoor conditions.
  • Process Development and Integration Laboratory (PDIL): Extensive laboratory containing unique capabilities for depositing, processing, and characterizing a wide range of solar cell technologies.
  • Solar Energy Research Facility (SERF): Houses laboratories for the deposition and study of various solar conversion technologies, from III-V high-efficiency devices to organic PV; the measurement and characterization of solar materials and devices; and fabrication of devices within a cleanroom environment.
  • Science and Technology Facility (S&TF): Houses the PDIL and nine advanced material synthesis, characterization, and general-support laboratories.
  • Solar Radiation Research Laboratory (SRRL): Uses pyranometers, pyrheliometers, and other measurement equipment to record and analyze solar radiation and surface meteorology data.