New Research Facilities To Support Solar Technologies In The EU

New facilities are being inaugurated today at the JRC’s European Solar Test Installation (ESTI), located in Ispra. The upgraded laboratories allow ESTI to assess the performance of new and improved photovoltaic (PV) devices, to perform pre-normative research and to help develop international standards. At the current investment costs of less than 1500€/kW, Photovoltaics have a strategic importance for competitive renewable energies, and a long-term potential for increased efficiency (from the current 14% PV cells efficiency up to over 60%). ESTI is a reference laboratory aimed at verifying technological achievement and enabling European R&D efforts in this area translate into commercial products.

image thumb6 New Research Facilities To Support Solar Technologies In The EU

The new Apollo large-area steady-state simulator opens the door to new measurements on advanced products as it provides full sunlight conditions over a 2mx2m test area for up to 8 hours© EU

This €3 million investment in new state-of-the art technologies will allow ESTI to keep pace with the rapidly evolving PV market and be able to address forthcoming standardisation issues. ESTI pioneered the tests on the reliability of early PV products in the 80s, when the European Commission financed the first pilot phase of terrestrial PV systems, and helped to provide the basis for international standards, supporting a market worth €20-€25 billion in Europe last year.

New capabilities include, for example, power calibration for thin film, concentrated PV or organic PV, which will in turn contribute to the promotion of innovation in PV technologies in the EU. In detail, this new instrumentation allows verification of both initial and long term performance of these new photovoltaic prototypes and products. One of the new facilities (the Apollo large-area steady-state simulator) opens the door to new measurements on advanced products as it provides full sunlight conditions over a 2mx2m test area for up to 8 hours, being the first of its kind installed in Europe. The determination of long-term (more than 20 years) performance is important, as it determines the cost of solar electricity after the financial payback time.

ESTI’s role is to build confidence in the comparability of measurements of PV devices by the production and dissemination of validated methods, reference measurements, interlaboratory comparisons and training.

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