For more than 40 years, NREL has led innovation in solar research, enabling the U.S. solar industry to grow rapidly as solar energy becomes more affordable and accessible than ever.
We work toward finding solutions for today’s solar R&D challenges, which include:
- Integrating large amounts of solar energy into the power grid while maintaining security and reliability, and enhancing resilience
- Improving the efficiency, lifetimes, and manufacturability of photovoltaic materials
- Developing technologies for a third generation of concentrating solar power plants to further reduce costs and improve thermal storage capabilities
- Capturing surplus solar energy to provide heat and produce fuels and clean water
- Creating flexible, highly efficient solar cells that can make low-cost power available without wires anywhere the sun shines
- Making solar an even better investment through work on bankability,
reliability, and recyclability.
Solar research at NREL is multifaceted, incorporating basic energy science, engineering, and energy analysis.
Our photovoltaic (PV) research spans across fundamental and applied research and development, including theory and modeling, materials deposition, device design, engineering, and measurements and characterization. It focuses on boosting solar cell conversion efficiencies, lowering the cost of PV technologies, and improving the reliability of PV components and systems.
Concentrating Solar Power
We play a critical role in the advancement of concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies through a wide range of scientific, engineering, and analytical expertise along with facilities and tools. Our CSP research even goes beyond electricity generation, moving into emerging markets for long-duration thermal energy storage, process heat, solar fuels, and desalination.
Solar Market Research and Analysis
Through rigorous data collection, analysis, and stakeholder engagement, NREL's solar market research and analysis efforts further solar technologies' role in supporting a more efficient and better performing U.S. electricity system. This crosscutting set of activities leverages NREL's unique analytical and deployment capabilities.
Solar Grid and Systems Integration
Our research addresses the technical challenges associated with integrating solar
electric technologies into a stable grid. Key areas include:
Solar Tech to Market
We connect NREL’s leading research, staff expertise, and facilities with private companies to support investigation, validation, and commercialization of solar technologies. By enabling early-stage solar technology and supporting the development of a skilled workforce, NREL strengthens the market and prepares solar for greater investment and commercialization. Whether supporting individual companies or leveraging American innovation and competitive spirit through the American-Made Solar Prize challenges, we help move technology to market and increasing U.S. manufacturing and competitiveness.