Six companies join hands for a solar test site

Six public and private sector entities have signed an agreement to develop one of the world's largest solar test and evaluation facilities.


The development site, Solar Technology Acceleration Center (SolarTAC), will be located in Aurora, Colorado. Site design, engineering, and permitting for the new 74-acre SolarTAC site has already begun.


The entities involved in SolarTAC include: Abengoa Solar, theCity of Aurora, the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, Midwest Research Institute (MRI), SunEdison and Xcel Energy.


SolarTAC will provide a solar facility where member companies can bring their technologies for testing and demonstration, particularly solar technologies at the early commercial or near-commercial stage of development.


It will also help promote better interface between technology developers and solar energy users by offering solar equipment suppliers an opportunity to show potential customers new technologies performing under actual field conditions.


MRI will serve as the management and operating contractor for SolarTAC.


"Our objective is to provide a highly flexible, real world test situation with dedicated, custom test sites for leading-edge companies," said Mike Pacheco, MRI vice president and acting executive director for SolarTAC.


The members of SolarTAC have all agreed to partner with the  State of Colorado and the four major research institutions that make up the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory - Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado - Boulder (CU), and NREL. As part of the partnership, the Collaboratory institutions will be invited to participate in planning SolarTAC activities and respond to Requests for Research Proposals.


In the initial phase, the site, scheduled to be developed over the next three years, will include common areas to be used for performance validation testing of new solar energy system components for which the costs and results will be shared by all SolarTAC companies, as well as custom-made, company-specific test sites for proprietary testing by member companies.


Abengoa Solar will have one of the first buildings erected on the site, an assembly building, and will begin actual equipment testing on proprietary components for their CSP system components within a few months.