The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) has officially opened its new photovoltaics outdoor test field in Albuquerque, N.M.
The facility – called OTF-1 – is an extension of CSE's existing Albuquerque solar research annex, which began operations in 2011.
The purpose of the new test facility is to support PV module and component manufacturers in assessing the actual field performance and durability of their products, and to allow system integrators to obtain the crucial data they need to meet ever-tightening performance and lifetime expectations.
The new facility provides a variety of 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 maximum power point conditions; and inverter DC/AC power-conversion analysis.
These capabilities complement existing testing capabilities CSE offers in conjunction with the co-located CFV Solar Test Laboratory, which is co-owned by Fraunhofer CSE. The facility allows for the testing of products and components that might not yet have UL, IEC or similar listings, Fraunhofer explains.
OTF-1's Albuquerque location offers over 310 days of direct sunshine and a local climate capable of spanning module temperatures greater than 50 degrees C over the course of a single day. To fully exploit these ideal conditions for PV testing, the site is equipped with both variable-angle mounting racks and dual-axis trackers. Micro-inverters, string inverters, continuous curve tracers and data acquisition and weather monitoring round out the capabilities.
OTF-1 is the second outdoor testing facility operated and maintained by Fraunhofer CSE; the first, located in Revere, Mass., is co-located at a 750 kW solar power plant owned by National Grid. A third test site currently under construction in Albuquerque – OTF-2 – will provide an additional five acres of test beds.