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Alpha Centauri – Field laboratory for testing of solar modules

Alpha Centauri is an outdoor laboratory for testing and characterizing PV modules in a Nordic climate. Here, we can test both monofacial and bifacial PV modules with advanced measurement equipment for irradiance.

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Alpha Centauri. Photo: SINTEF/ Smidesang & Lyng.

The Alpha Centauri Laboratory consists of eight bifacial PV modules mounted on four stands with two-axis tracking system. The PV modules can be set in sun-tracking mode or controlled manually and set in the desired position. The operating of the four stands is independent of each other. Each PV module has an individual data logger with a time resolution of 10 seconds. Among other things, short-circuit current, open circuit voltage, output power, and module temperature are measured here.

We have advanced measurement equipment for irradiance at the weather station at the laboratory. Some examples of measurements taken include direct normal irradiance, diffuse horizontal irradiance, global horizontal irradiance, wind speed, and ambient temperature.

The weather station is located close to the PV modules. Photo: SINTEF/ Smidesang & Lyng.

Alpha Centauri can be used to test the performance of PV modules during real weather conditions in Trondheim. The laboratory is located on the roof of Central Building 1 at NTNU Campus Gløshaugen. It is also possible to test the impact that surface coatings have on the performance of bifacial PV modules. Characterization of PV modules can be performed outdoors with automatically generated IV curves. Alpha Centauri is connected to an indoor module characterization laboratory with a LumiSolarProfessional from Greateyes. This system is an electroluminescence (EL) inspection tool for PV modules of various materials and sizes. It can detect micro-cracks, impurities, inhomogeneities, local shunts, etc. It delivers EL images with high resolution and contrast.

Left: LumiSolarProfessional inspection tool with a PV-module inside. Photo: Right: a EL image created by SINTEF.

Watch a video of Alpha Centauri here

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Contact information

Visiting address: Alfred Getz vei 1, 7034 Trondheim