In 2010, Xcel Energy ranked fourth in the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) list for new solar watts-per-customer. Part of what is driving this growth in solar development is state renewable energy standards.
Colorado is a great place for solar energy production, so it seems fitting that the state serves a role in developing more advanced solar technologies. The industry took a large step in this direction in early June with the official opening of the Solar Technology Acceleration Center or SolarTAC near the Denver International Airport. The 74-acre tract of land — with its flat topography and 300 days of sunshine a year — is like a giant, outdoor laboratory where the solar industry can research, test, validate and demonstrate solar technologies. The facility’s mission is to increase the efficiency of solar energy products and rapidly deploy them to the commercial market.
SolarTAC is set up to allow members to sponsor a range of projects from proprietary research to shared work. It is also open to research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and by national entities like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Current membership in the facility includes: Abengoa Solar, the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, Amonix, the Electric Power Research Institute, SunEdison and Xcel Energy.
“The facilities and infrastructure at the site allow us to test, then demonstrate key components under development,” said Henry W. Price, Abengoa Solar’s vice president of technology. “SolarTAC is an important part of Abengoa’s U.S. development approach to new technologies.”
“The Alliance for Sustainable Energy is excited to see the SolarTAC vision come to life,” said Dana Christensen, NREL’s deputy lab director for Science & Technology. “This collaboration provides a unique opportunity for evaluation of solar technology performance under real-world conditions and contributes to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s critical role in developing and testing the next generation of solar energy technologies together with its integration onto the electric grid.”
Xcel Energy is using SolarTAC to test a large, utility-scale battery for storing solar power. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn to corral the power of the sun (and wind for that matter) more efficiently? It would go a long way toward increasing our use of renewable energy and reaching our goals.
We look forward to seeing what other innovative solutions come out of the SolarTAC facility in years to come.