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Sandia National Labs

About Sandia National Laboratories

Through the Secure and Sustainable Energy Future Mission, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) helps to enable an uninterrupted and enduring supply of energy from domestic sources and supports the reliability and resiliency of the associated energy infrastructure. This mission is braced by ongoing lab efforts to drive the development and deployment of energy sources that are safe, efficient, and less dependent on scarce natural resources.

Sandia has been nationally recognized for connecting laboratories with small businesses through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program, a 15-year-old initiative that provides unique lab capabilities and technical expertise to the private sector.

Capabilities

SNL is home to an extensive suite of solar resources. The three core capabilities include systems integration, photovoltaic (PV) Research and Development (R&D), and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).

Systems Integration

SNLs System Integration Program addresses technical barriers to large-scale deployment of solar photovoltaic generation in grid-tied power systems. Research focuses on three primary tasks related to high-penetration PV:

  • expanding and disseminating technical knowledge and understanding related to grid performance, reliability, forecasting, and costs of integration;
  • developing integrated solutions to optimize the balance between energy generation, storage, and consumption through new technologies and advanced controls, at local and regional levels; and
  • communicating our research and analysis to help industry and regulators develop effective and appropriate performance standards and codes.

PV R&D

SNL's PV R&D program conducts research to improve the performance, reliability, and cost effectiveness of PV components and systems through testing and characterization, modeling and analysis, and systems engineering. This work spans the range of cell and device R&D; laboratory-based component and system evaluation, characterization and optimization of fully fielded PV systems, accelerated lifetime testing, inverter and power electronics development and characterization, on-site weather and irradiance data analysis; and removal of technical and nontechnical barriers through codes and standards, new technology development, and assistance to project-implementing partners.

The PV systems reliability program uses Sandia's extensive expertise in materials, manufacturing, statistical analysis, and system-level accelerated testing. Researchers at the lab are developing novel approaches to fabricating ultra-thin PV cells that reduce semiconductor materials in modules, and Sandia's optics expertise is being applied to develop low- cost micro-concentrators or PV modules.

Concentrating Solar Power

The CSP program conducts research to reduce costs and identify opportunities for improvement of CSP technologies, advance understanding of CSP system behavior, increase efficiency and capacity for baseload CSP applications, and reduce risk for CSP technologies and increased levels of concentrating solar power in the transmission grid. The program also develops advanced modeling and validation techniques that integrate structural, optical, and thermal processes for better predictive and analytical capabilities.

Capabilities include: Parabolic trough, power tower and dish/engine technology development. R&D for collectors, receivers, thermal energy storage, H2 and CO2 thermochemical processes, optical tools, dish technologies, line-focus systems, and power tower systems.

Facilities

Sandia's PV Systems Integration program utilizes laboratory facilities such as the Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory (DETL) to conduct lab-controlled, real-world simulations that research advancements in modeling and simulation, analysis, system testing and evaluation, technology development, codes and standards, and industry coordination. The Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Laboratory (PSEL) provides expertise and test support within several facilities and outdoor sites for evaluating PV and other distributed energy hardware.

Systems Integration

PV R&D

Concentrating Solar Power

Additional Information

Photo of two rows of solar panels in a green field, blue sky and clouds in the background
Photo of a row of solar panels with mountains showing in the background.
Photo of a solar power tower.