As the host site for a new 32MWac solar photovoltaic plant, Brookhaven National Laboratory will have access to unique time-resolved data sets from a utility-scale solar PV plant in the Northeast. BNL intends to leverage access to these data sets to perform research on solar energy at the Laboratory. This grid-connected solar PV plant, which is scheduled to begin operation in the fall of 2011, will be the largest in the Northeast and will provide an unparalleled opportunity for research to address many of the challenges facing the deployment of large-scale, grid-connected PV plants.
To supplement the research that can be performed using data from the large solar plant, BNL is also developing a new Northeast Solar Energy Research Center (NSERC) on its campus that will serve as a solar energy research and test facility. The NSERC will offer research capabilities and field testing under actual northeastern weather conditions. The vision for NSERC is to provide a user facility with capabilities to address the major challenges facing the deployment and integration of sustainable solar energy resources, particularly in the northeastern United States, as a means of ensuring the Nation’s future energy security.
Several overarching research themes are envisioned for the NSERC, including:
Periodic updates on BNL’s progress in developing the NSERC will be posted on this site.
On March 8-9, 2011 BNL held a technical workshop to obtain input from solar industry experts for the development of a new Northeast Solar Energy Research Center (NSERC) here on the BNL campus. The NSERC would serve as a solar energy user facility that would supplement and build upon the research already planned using data from the Long Island Solar Farm (LISF) by offering research and field testing capabilities under actual northeastern weather conditions. The purpose of this workshop was to obtain input on the need for such a facility here in the northeast, as well as to define the parameters for this center that would facilitate the development and deployment of advanced solar energy systems and help to address the associated challenges with their grid integration.
BNL presented its preliminary plans to the workshop participants, which include the construction of a dedicated solar photovoltaic research array for field studies on new solar PV technologies under actual northeastern weather conditions, including solar panels, power inverters, energy storage devices, and other solar power generation technologies. The dedicated solar energy research array is expected to be up to 1 megawatt in size with all power generated fed directly into the BNL electrical distribution system. This clean power would offset BNL’s electricity usage and help us meet the energy sustainability goals set for the Laboratory.
The NSERC would also include laboratory space with specialized solar energy test equipment for standardized testing of solar technologies in a laboratory setting for independent performance tests, degradation studies, and other related activities.
The workshop was attended by representatives from eleven different organizations with recognized expertise in solar energy, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Electric Power Research Institute, American Superconductor, BP Solar, Long Island Power Authority, New York Power Authority, Solar Electric Power Association and GE Global Research. There was unanimous agreement by all participants that this center is much needed and would be a valuable asset to support the adoption and deployment of large-scale solar energy plants in the Northeastern U.S. The conclusion from this workshop was that plans should move forward to develop this facility. A great deal of valuable input was received and will now be used to develop a prospectus and preliminary design for the NSERC.
Last Modified: April 4, 2011