Solar Energy Technologies

Program Areas

Solar Energy Technologies

The Solar Technologies Program at ORNL is focused on conducting research, development, and deployment for the Department of Energy in collaboration with private industry, universities, utilities, and state and regional organizations. ORNL expertise includes photovoltaics, hybrid solar lighting, solar tracking devices, remote hardware, sensors and controls, optics, electronics, and systems integration. The program has developed many cost-share partnerships with industry and utilities including Wal-Mart, Aurora Ballast, LSI Industries, Long Island Power Authority, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

In addition to the normal array of electrical, mechanical, and optical measurement capabilities that are essential to the operation of any solar research facility, ORNL has several specific capabilities:

Solar Technologies Laboratory - This consists of a rooftop laboratory and an analytical laboratory. The rooftop laboratory facility includes multiple single and dual axis solar tracking systems for use in evaluation of solar systems and is conduit-connected to the solar analytical lab (one floor below) with multiple and versatile data acquisition systems. The facility is affiliated with the NREL Measurement and Instrumentation Data Center (MIDC) and provides direct normal incidence and total hemispheric insolation data along with temperature, humidity, wind, and rainfall data to the MIDC network. The facility is presently being utilized for evaluation of a variety of PV and CPV systems.

Center for Advanced Thin-film Solar cells (CATS) - This user-accessible facility consists of four co-located evaluation laboratories that include a wide variety of spectroscopic, ellipsometric, and physical measurement capabilities. The facility was designed with a wide variety of optical sources and instrumentation capabilities to address the anticipated needs of photovoltaic system developers. The CATS laboratory is equipped with multiple mobile workstation platforms to permit the rapid re-configuration of experiment stations.

Deposition and Analytical Facilities - A fully equipped clean room facility with material deposition and analytical capabilities is available for material development studies. These facilities include a Trion Technologies ORION Plasma Enhanced CVD System, Tystar Tytan LPCVD System, Electron-Beam Evaporator, DC Magnetron Sputtering System, Trion Technologies ORACLE RIE System, Reynolds Tech Acid/Caustic Etch Bench, Filmetrics F-20 & F-40 Thin Film Measurement System, as well as a variety of surface profilometers and microscopic instruments.

Microstructural Characterization Facilities - The co-located facilities within the ORNL complex offer a variety of instruments and personnel for microstructural characterization. These include multiple scanning electron microscopes, and transmission electron microscopes, along with Auger, X-ray diffractometry, and a variety of other specialized measurement systems.

Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center - A fully equipped and staffed facility for development and characterization of high power electronics and electric machines. Power supplies capable of delivering up to 2000A at 45Vdc and up to 600A at 600Vdc and two dynamometers for loading up to 400hp as well as the analytical tools necessary for measuring electrical data (current, voltage, torque, etc.) accurately are available. The staff has extensive experience in designing and building electric machines and power converters and their control system along with the associated experience with thermal management and packaging.

ORNL Solar Technologies

DOE Solar Energy Technologies Program