TÜV Rheinland Develops Unique Solar Simulator for CPV Modules

One-of-a-Kind Solar Simulator Allows Accurate Characterization of CPV Module Performance, Speeds Up Design Certification According to IEC 62108

Boxborough, Mass., March 20, 2013 – After nearly two years of research, experts from TÜV Rheinland in Cologne, Germany, and TÜV Rheinland Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory (PTL) in Tempe, Ariz., have developed a new solar simulator for characterizing concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules. The new simulator allows for more precise comparison measurements on CPV modules designed for commercial use because it generates and maintains the standard temperature condition of 77ºF (25ºC) under the laboratory conditions.

"In the simulator, compact, high-intensity xenon lamps are positioned in the focal plane of a parabolic mirror," explains Dr. Gerhard Mathiak, who was responsible for the development of the test stand at TÜV Rheinland. "The light reflected by the mirror is just as parallel as the light from the solar disk onto the Earth."

The simulator is currently operating at TÜV Rheinland's Solar Testing Center in Cologne, and the company will also make it available in its test laboratories around the world.

For decades, TÜV Rheinland has investigated new photovoltaic and CPV technologies as part of research and development projects aimed to introduce new testing methods. The mirror in the solar simulator measures 4.9 ft by 6.6 ft (1.50 m by 2.00 m), enabling a unique laboratory setup that allows the accurate measurement of CPV modules up to the size of 5.9 ft by 4.6 ft (1.80 m by 1.40 m). At the same time, the new flash solar simulator shortens the process for the comprehensive design certification and qualification of CPV modules according to IEC 62108. The performance measurements required for the qualification can be performed more quickly and with higher repeatability.

The flash solar simulator can also be used for measuring characteristic curves of concentrator solar cells under the high-light intensity to determine conditions for their maximum performance. To achieve this, a surface area of 0.78 square inches (five square centimeters) can be homogeneously irradiated with light at the level equivalent to 100–1,500 times the standard solar radiation.

The development of the new simulator was sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Research of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, as part of the "Competence Center for Innovative Photovoltaic Module Technology NRW" (InnoPV) project.

TÜV Rheinland is the world's leading testing service provider for the solar industry. The company first started laboratory-scale technical testing of solar components in 1985. TÜV Rheinland's network of solar industry experts now comprises almost 300 specialists in eight laboratories worldwide. As a global market leader for the testing and certification of solar systems, TÜV Rheinland operates test laboratories in Tempe, Ariz., US; Bangalore, India; Gyeongsan, Korea; Cologne, Germany; Osaka and Yokohama, Japan; Shanghai, China; and Taichung, Taiwan. Worldwide, more than 500 manufacturers of photovoltaic products choose to receive their independent testing services from TÜV Rheinland. The company specialists not only test modules and components, but also develop new testing methods, collaborate on research and development projects for the use of solar energy and assist customers with construction of solar power plants.

For more information about TÜV Rheinland PTL, visit www.tuv.com/us/ptl.

About TÜV Rheinland

Founded in 1872, TÜV Rheinland is a global leader in independent testing, inspection, and certification services, ensuring quality and safety for people, the environment and technology in nearly all aspects of life. The company maintains a presence in 500 locations spanning 65 countries, employs 17,000 people and has an annual revenue of $2 billion (€1.5 billion). TÜV Rheinland inspects technical equipment, products and services, oversees projects and helps to shape processes for a wide variety of companies through its worldwide network of approved labs, testing facilities and education centers. Since 2006, the company has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact to promote sustainability and combat corruption. For more information, visit www.tuv.com/us.

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