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A collage of solar photographs. The first photo shows a parabolic solar trough at the Eldorado Valley site. The second is of a gird-tied high-concentration solar cell MicroDish. And the third photo shows the photovoltaic panels at Oberlin College's Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental studies.

Learn About Solar Energy

Solar technologies use the sun's energy to provide electricity, heat, light, hot water, and even cooling for homes, businesses, and industry. Learn more about solar energy technologies such as photovoltaic (solar electric) systems, concentrating solar power systems, passive solar heating and daylighting, solar hot water, and solar process heat and space cooling.

Solar energy research at NREL includes photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, solar grid and systems integration, and market acceleration and soft costs.

Photovoltaic Research

NREL's capabilities in photovoltaics (PV) range across fundamental and applied research and development (R&D), including theory and modeling, materials deposition, device design, measurements and characterization, and reliability testing and engineering.

Our PV R&D emphasizes innovation in the following PV conversion technologies:

Our PV R&D also includes:

Concentrating Solar Power Research

In concentrating solar power (CSP), NREL plays a leadership role in the following:

  • Supporting the development of new designs, materials, and manufacturing processes for solar components and systems with an emphasis on improved performance, reliability, and service life
  • Developing power tower and parabolic trough technology for solar electricity generation
  • Analyzing the cost, performance, and value of solar systems.

Solar Grid and Systems Integration

NREL research addresses the technical challenges associated with integrating PV technologies into a stable grid. This research is closely coordinated with work in the National Center for Photovoltaics and the Electrical Systems Integration Facility. Key areas of solar systems integration include:

Solar Market Acceleration and Soft Costs Research

NREL is working to enable faster, easier, and less expensive installations by addressing soft costs and market barriers through data collection, analysis, and assistance to decision-makers who affect solar markets. This cross-cutting set of activities leverages NREL's unique analytical and deployment capabilities. Key areas for solar balance of systems (BOS) and soft costs include the following.

Data Collection and Analysis

Assistance to Decision-Makers

NREL also has resources related to solar maps and solar radiation research.

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