Solar Test Sites

Photovoltaic NanoGrid:
Resilience is about grid reliability and durability, a goal made more difficult by the growing trend toward decentralized energy resources such as with the deployment of renewable power systems. As a result, reliability cannot be assured merely by keeping existing facilities running and within operating parameters. Rather, resilience requires knowledge of the state of the grid that can come only from the ubiquitous deployment of a wide variety of networked sensors and control devices across the grid communicating via standards-based protocols. Ultimately, the distribution grid will need the flexibility and agility to accommodate all types of distributed energy resources (DER). The objective of this plan is to develop the technologies for increasing the penetration of PV into the utility grid while maintaining or improving the power quality and the reliability of the utility grid. Highly integrated, innovative, advanced inverters and associated balance-of-system (BOS) elements for residential and commercial solar energy applications will be the key critical components developed in the effort. Advanced integrated inverters/controllers may incorporate energy management functions and/or may communicate with stand-alone energy management systems as well with utility energy portals, such as smart metering systems. Products will be developed for the utility grid of today, which was designed for one-way power flow, for intermediate grid scenarios, and for the grid of tomorrow, which will seamlessly accommodate two-way power flows as required by wide-scale deployment of solar and other distributed resources.


APECS: Advancing Photovoltaics for Economical Concentrator Systems

The APECS project goal is to establish high-efficiency concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems as an economically viable technology for grid-connected solar power generation in Ontario, Canada, and globally. CPV systems include optical modules for concentrating solar radiation onto high-performing cells, which convert the radiation to electricity. This is a $10M Ontario Research Foundation – Research Excellence funded program with three partners: Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the University of Ottawa, and Morgan Solar Inc (Toronto, Ontario).

The project private sector partner, Morgan Solar, have developed breakthrough modules that are low cost and highly efficient by making use of total internal reflection principals to create a very compact acrylic-based concentrator module. They are unique to the industry. The research program will develop a suite of interlocking cross-disciplinary technologies, including performance studies and evolution of Morgan Solar’s panels, development of laboratory solar cell testing at uOttawa, research into cells on alternative substrates (in partnership with Université de Sherbrooke) to bring down the cost of the multi-junction cells, reliability analysis of systems and cells, and cost model studies of CPV systems.

The project involved the building of two solar test sites: a test site on the uOttawa campus (built in 2011) and a test site located in the Mojave Desert, California (2012). At both test sites PV performance data and climatic data is collected on 2-5 minute intervals and studied by researchers. PV performance monitoring includes string and voltage outputs, and IV curve tracing of individual optics within a string using custom built instrumentation. The installation at uOttawa, located on the rooftop of the Sports Complex parkade at the main downtown campus, was supported by Physical Resource Services at uOttawa and by Power One Solar Solutions of Ottawa.



SUNRISE: Semiconductors Using Nanostructures for Record Increases in Solar-Cell Efficiency

Context: Solar cells are not yet widely used because they are not sufficiently efficient or cost-effective as a primary source of electricity in homes and businesses.The proposed research will develop a new class of solar cells up to 10% more efficient, potentially making solar cells attractive for widespread use.

Objectives: Optimize a design for multi-junction solar cells using quantum dots on crystalline semiconductor surfaces, which will absorb sunlight far more efficiently than existing solar cell technology. Integrate the optimized solar cells into a concentrator to boost solar intensity up to 500 times, and measure the performance of the integrated assembly in real-world conditions. Provide receptor companies with a marketable technology.

Team: Researchers from the Université de Sherbrooke and the University of Ottawa will work with scientists and engineers from the NRC Institute for Microstructural Sciences (NRC-IMS) and the NRC Institute for Research in Construction (NRC-IRC), in Ottawa.

The project press announcement is available here.