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Golden Rays – November 2016

The Solar Newsletter is a monthly electronic newsletter that provides information on NREL's research and development of solar technologies.

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Hot Topics

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New Consortium to Improve Solar Module Reliability and Performance 

NREL is leading the DuraMat Consortium to develop PV module materials for reliable, low-cost solar electricity.

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Nanoscale Confinement Leads to New All-Inorganic Perovskite with Exceptional Solar Cell Properties 

NREL scientist first to discover how to make perovskite solar cells out of quantum dots.

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NREL Report Shows U.S. Solar PV Costs Continuing to Fall in 2016 

The continuing total cost decline of PV systems demonstrates the sustained economic competitiveness of solar PV for the industry across all three sectors.

Must Reads


Projects and Partnerships

  • NREL Provides Deep Expertise in Solar Forecasting

    NREL recently developed the Sun4Cast system with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and researchers from other government laboratories, universities, and six public utilities. Sun4Cast improves daily forecasts of atmospheric conditions (i.e., clouds) that influence the amount of energy generated by solar arrays, allowing utilities to deploy solar energy more reliably and inexpensively. NREL researchers developed and integrated a fast radiative transfer model into the Weather Research & Forecasting (WRF) model. NREL researchers also developed and provided aerosol data for the WRF model to improve the accuracy of solar radiation computations, supported benchmark development for forecast validation, and worked with Florida Power and Light to validate the forecasting process.

  • NREL Reaches Out to Solar Stakeholders for Effective Standards and Research

    Researchers from NREL and Underwriters Laboratories recently conducted two workshops at the Solar Power International 2016 tradeshow: "Special Testing for Modules Deployed in Hot Use Environments" and "Progress & Frontiers in PV Performance." About 150 people signed up for these workshops, with attendees coming from all parts of the solar community, from installers to bankers. The workshops disseminated information about new standards and PV modeling techniques, and solicited feedback that can help shape standard development and guide new research.

In Touch With NREL Solar

Opportunities to Partner



  • Photovoltaic Research and Development (PVRD) Projects

    NREL will be supporting many of the Photovoltaic Research and Development (PVRD) projects that DOE announced on September 14, 2016. The funding supports 19 new photovoltaics (PV) projects that will enhance module reliability and improve manufacturability of PV technologies beyond 2020.

  • SEEDS2-SES Announcement

    Announced on October 20, this project focuses on identifying novel, data-driven, and evidence-based strategies that could dramatically scale up solar adoption rates in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. The goal is to develop pathways for reaching parity in solar penetration rates across socioeconomic groups.

Upcoming Events

Photovoltaic Reliability Workshop

February 28-March 2, 2017

PV O&M USA 2016 Conference

December 6-7, 2016
San Francisco, California

NREL staff will present a new cost model for photovoltaics operation and maintenance (PV O&M) developed under the Department of Energy SunShot task "Best Practices for PV O&M" at the PV O&M USA 2016 Conference. This cost model includes an estimate of a "reserve account" to cover the cost of unplanned failures.

Municipal Utilities Exploring Solar Options for Their Communities Webinar

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative (DGIC) aims to share knowledge on distributed photovoltaic interconnection practices and innovation. Since 2013, the Collaborative has hosted 15 informational webinars, with presentations from utilities, equipment manufacturers, independent system operators, national labs, and research organizations.

The final DGIC webinar of 2016—on Thursday, December 8, 2016—will discuss the experiences of two utilities who applied for assistance from the Department of Energy's Utility Solar Technical Assistance program pilot. In 2016, 38 requests for technical assistance were submitted, representing 82 utilities in the United States. NREL provided in-depth assistance to 51 of these utilities by working with groups and associations; informational materials were supplied to the remaining requestors. This webinar will highlight two of these in-depth projects: 1) financial viability of co-located solar-plus-storage facilities in Pasadena, CA, and 2) project finance for community solar in the Midwest. Please join to hear the novel questions that each utility brought to the table, how they worked with NREL to address them, and the broader lessons for other peer utilities.

Click here to receive updates on the December webinar and future DGIC publications and events.

Did you know?

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The amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased by more than 23 times over the past eight years.

That's enough energy to power the equivalent of 5.4 million average American homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.