Over 86,000 terawatts of solar energy reach the Earth’s surface each year- enough to satisfy current global energy demand 1000 times over. In 2008, solar electric power amounted to a mere 0.2% of global energy produced but it is at a tipping point with a growth rate of 40% per year. Exponential growth, enormous solar resources and the global economy's unquenchable demand for electricity increasingly position photovoltaic power as vital to 21st century technology.
In this rapidly changing industry, the Solar Power Lab stands-out as having some of the most experienced researchers in the field. This, coupled with state-of-the-art facilities and institutional support, gives SPL the solid foundation necessary to push the boundaries of what has become a $20 billion sector of the economy.
Arizona State University’s Solar Power Lab serves a staging ground for the new technologies and ideas that will move us forward in our quest for a more sustainable society.
The Solar Power Lab is also committed to education. Check out our electronic book for information on photovoltaics, solar industry, and the physics that govern them.
The Solar Power Lab has numerous capabilities such as:
A full pilot line for 6 inch solar cells with an average efficiency of 17.5%
Extensive capabilities for silicon solar cell characterization
Molecular Beam epitaxy system for nano-structured solar cells
Arizona State University takes full advantage of being in the "Valley of the Sun" and has an agressive program to install photovoltaic generating systems with more installed PV capacity than any other university in the United States. The installations are starting to pay real dividends. On February 24 half the power used on campus in the middle of the day was provided by photovoltaic systems.
Twelve students just finished the latest course on the manufacture of solar cells at ASU. At the completion of the course the students were able to complete the manufacture of high efficiency solar cells on the pilot line at the solar power labs. Half the students came from across the US as part of the QESST engineering research center, and the other half were from the SUN IGERT program at ASU.
In Fall 2012 ASU and QESST started a new class on the manufacture of silicon solar cells – the same type of cells used in nearly all solar photovoltaic systems installed worldwide. Students learn about modern techniques of solar cell fabrication in their classroom. Students also work as “virtual engineers” in the Virtual Solar Cell Factory – an online solar cell factory simulation – where they will have attempt to “save the company” using the manufacturing engineering science techniques being taught in their classroom.
ASU continues to install photovoltaic systems across the constituent campuses. Presently over 15 MW of capacity are installed with an expected capacity of 17 MW by the end of 2012.
Milestones as of June 30, 2012: Total Solar Generation Capacity:15.3 MW Total Solar Systems: 58
(52 on Tempe campus; 2 on West campus; 2 on Downtown campus; 2 on Polytechnic campus) Total Number of Panels and Collectors Installed: 61,203
The is more information on the individual systems at:
On June 18 twenty undergraduate students from around the country gathered to work in the silicon pilot line. The students have the task of increasing solar cell efficiency on the line by 1-2 percentage points. In industry, this level of improvement is the difference between profit and loss for a company with a production line.
On May 28th forty-nine people from ten countries converged upon Arizona State University for the International Characterization and Modeling Workshop. The attendees ranged from first year graduate students to professors and experts in the field. In all, fourteen universities and four companies were represented at the workshop.