Solar Resource Calibration Measurement and Dissemination

Support and enable the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative in making solar energy fully cost competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. The work described in this project will support SunShot activities (given in italics) as follows:

  • Shorten the amount of time needed to move promising new solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies from development to commercialization by providing the calibrated hardware, infrastructure, and software required for the design and testing of new technologies.
  • Increase efficiency, reduce production costs, and open new markets for solar energy by providing high resolution resource data for the US and internationally that enables and gives increased confidence for system design and deployment.
  • Foster collaboration for utility-scale solutions and clear the way for high-penetration solar by increasing the accuracy of resource data to drive down financing costs, and providing information about the variability of solar resources over shorter timescales to enable cost effective grid integration and management.
  • Strengthen the U.S. supply chain for solar manufacturing and commercialization of cutting-edge solar technologies by providing instrumentation and software to test generating technologies and providing test facilities for new sensor technologies.
  • Invest in education, policy analysis, and technical assistance to remove critical barriers through stakeholder engagement in measurement and modeling activities, by disseminating accurate data, and providing expert advice to industry and stakeholders through outreach and standards development.
  • Develop a well-trained workforce to foster U.S. job creation in the solar industry by providing training to industry in the area of solar resource assessment.
  • Grid Performance and Reliability: maintain and enhance the efficiency and reliability of electric transmission and distribution systems in a cost-effective, safe manner. This project provides the ability to accurately sense the solar resource and photovoltaic (PV) production at multiple timescales using fast (on the order of 1 second), local ground-based measurements and satellite based measurements (updated every 30 minutes), enabling grid awareness on a range of timescales.High-resolution solar resource and PV output data sets are critical to the solar industry for conducting power system integration analysis in addition to real-time utility operations.
  • Dispatchability: Ensure that solar power is available on-demand, when and where it is needed and at the desired amounts, in a manner that is comparable to or better than from conventional power plants. This project provides measurement, models, and data collection systems that enable assessment and forecasting of solar resource and generator state for PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) facilities. This helps determine solar output, which allows for sizing of energy storage systems to improve solar dispatchability.