High-Tech Test Center, Only One in Northeast, Will Help Promote Growth of Solar Power Business and R&D in New York State
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Center for Evaluation of Clean Energy Technology (CECET) celebrated the opening of a new solar panel testing laboratory in Cortland today.
Owned by the worldwide testing company Intertek, CECET's PV Certification Testing Lab provides both indoor and outdoor testing of solar panels. Using sophisticated technology, the lab tests such characteristics as generating capacity; performance over time; impacts of snow, extreme temperature and other adverse weather conditions and other aspects of solar generation performance.
Currently, the nearest solar panel testing laboratories are located in the southeastern United States and California. Locating a testing site in New York will allow scientists to test equipment performance during the extreme winter and summer conditions in the Northeast, as well as offer ease of access and convenience to solar panel manufacturers based in this region.
Lab equipment will also perform electroluminescence testing, which can be used to spot stress cracks and other minute damage to panel composite materials. Specialized ovens will be used to test for accelerated aging in heat and cold to simulate years of aging in only a few weeks. In all, the lab can provide more than 10 types of tests to meet U.S and international standards.
The use of certified photovoltaic equipment (such as solar panels) is a requirement of many state and federal incentive or similar programs.
"Through Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun initiative, the State has seen a significant increase in the installation of solar power. By investing in CECET's new solar panel testing laboratory, the State continues to demonstrate its commitment to the solar industry and its advancement of new technologies," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "Being the only high tech solar panel facility in the Northeast, it will bring economic activity to the State, and help expand New York’s clean energy economy."
Governor Cuomo launched the NY-Sun initiative to accelerate solar power development in New York State. Combined efforts of NYSERDA, New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) in 2012 led to the successful installation of more than 58 megawatts (MW) of PV in the State, nearly doubling the amount of customer-sited PV installed in 2011.
“For companies working on mature and next-generation solar technologies, this lab will provide a state-of-the-art facility at which to validate the success of their research and development,” said Rick Lewandowski, CECET’s Executive Director. "Our test facilities demonstrate that New York is ready for the expansion of both the renewable marketplace and its industry and is making the necessary investment to lead in this area. We are thankful to NYSERDA for its vision and funding, which helped make this joint effort possible."
This site, located only a few hours from the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) in Albany, is designed to encourage increased research and development of solar power technology in New York and the Northeast. The solar lab is currently supporting four employees, with job growth expected.
“The opening of this facility further builds on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative to position New York as a hub for innovative clean energy research and advanced manufacturing,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, CNSE Vice President for Clean Energy Programs and Chief Operating and Technology Officer of the U.S. PVMC. “We see strong potential for collaboration between CECET and the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium on reliability and field performance testing that is essential to enhance the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and, ultimately, the adoption of next-generation solar energy technologies.”
NYSERDA awarded $1.7 million to CECET for the Cortland solar site and $877,000 for a wind turbine blade testing center at Clarkson University in Potsdam. An additional $400,000 was previously awarded to Intertek to help pay for the creation of CECET.
The blade test facility, which opened this past summer, serves manufacturers of small and medium-size turbines, which range from backyard-sized residential turbines to turbines capable of providing significant power to a municipal facility, large farm or manufacturing complex.