Photovoltaic Capabilities

Three different types of photovoltaic modules on test rack with blue metal commercial building in background, photo.From small-scale thin film photovoltaic cell manufacturing to large-scale commercial photovoltaic systems testing, the FSEC Energy Research Center at UCF is capable of it all. On-site testing and field evaluation of photovoltaic lighting systems, photovoltaic module durability, as well as intructor-led, hands-on training, and photovoltaic technical support are also areas of expertise.

Photovoltaic Materials Laboratory

Researcher holding 4" x 6" PV cell sample, photo.

Researchers and graduate students in the Photovoltaic Materials Laboratory conduct a wide range of research for the development of renewable energy. The research projects include: PV module aging and durability testings, the development of thin film solar cells for terrestrial and space applications, the development of photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells for hydrogen production. This lab has excellent facilities for the preparation and characterization of large 4”x 6” solar cells, which are viable to serve as a nucleus of a pilot plant for fabrication of CIGSS thin film mini-modules.

Solar Simulator Flash Laboratory

Researcher tests photovoltaic module on Spire solar simulator.The indoor solar simulator flash lab compliments the outdoor infrastructure and completes the photovoltaic module testing capability. The centerpiece of the indoor flash lab is the Spire 4600SLP, offering Class A spectral, spatial, and temporal performance which exceeds IEC 60904-9 Standards.  Researchers are able to conduct world-class diagnostic and baseline PV module testing, using state-of-the-art EL imaging, IR photography, and multiple Sinton I-V flash devices.

Inverter Test Facility

Elevated view of both ground mounted and roof mounted photovoltaic systems on top of laoratories, photo.

FSEC is valued for a history of providing highly reliable results for photovoltaic array and inverter testing in a hot, humid climate. Researchers collect and analyze data to characterize the performance of inverters and PV systems in different configurations and gain useful insight in key performance concerns, including array and inverter efficiencies and system reliability.

Four different inverters grouped together and mounted on blue, metal side of building, photo.The inverter test facility is made up of a configurable 12 kW PV array and four parallel test beds. Each test bed monitors the following parameters: DC voltage, DC current, AC Voltage, AC Power and inverter temperature. Solar irradiance, ambient temperature, and several PV array temperatures are recorded by a separate, synchronized data logger.

Inverter testing includes data collection in near real-time for DC input currents and voltages, and AC output parameters. Multiple internal and external inverter temperature location points are measured, and cumulative energy harvests and instantaneous power measurements are recorded. Capability exists to test grid-tied string inverters, micro-inverters, grid-tied battery backup and off-grid battery backup technologies.

Meteorological data is collected in near real-time—alongside the photovoltaic array and inverter data sets—and includes direct and diffuse solar irradiance, ambient temperature, rainfall amount, relative humidity and wind speed.

Auxiliary Site Test Facility

Aerial view of open grass field different types of ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, with one section with open structure to hold future PV systems; modular PV test buildings in background.

The auxiliary site test facility, located approximately three miles from the main office building in Cocoa, FL, is capable of testing large-scale commercial photovoltaic systems. More than 100kW of installed sub-systems are constantly monitored and analyzed. The currently installed infrastructure can accommodate upwards of 200kW of photovoltaic systems, and activity is planned to bring even more systems online in the near future.