Canada Buys Large Solar Simulator

The Canadian government has purchased one of the largest solar simulators in the world to test solar thermal panels and solar electric modules.

TORONTO, Ontario, CA, 2001-05-27 [SolarAccess.com] Natural Resources Canada paid C$555,000 to buy the 200 kW lamp from Vortek Industries Ltd of Vancouver. The unit will be installed in an environmental chamber at the National Solar Test Facility near Toronto, where it can simulate lighting, temperature and wind conditions to test how products react to different climatic conditions. It says NSTF is the only facility in North America where repeatable testing of solar systems can be conducted in a controlled environment to meet standards set by the Canadian Standards Association. “We have to get our innovative technology to market and into the hands of the average citizen,” says NRCan minister Ralph Goodale. “That’s why the government of Canada is helping provide the necessary testing facilities for Canada’s solar industry.” The federal funding paid for the lamp, as well as an upgrade to the facility that is owned and operated by Bodycote Materials Testing Canada Inc. NRCan owns the solar testing equipment and supports NSTF with an annual contract of $200,000 for solar-related services. An investment of $180,000 was used to upgrade the electrical, cooling and supply structures at NSTF. The 200 kW lamp replaces an existing 150 kW unit that has been used for the past 20 years. The new simulator can replicate solar radiation conditions in space, making it possible to test equipment under extraterrestrial conditions and allowing the aerospace industry to test PV panels for electrical performance and to thermal test spacecraft and components. The new lamp is large enough to test the largest solar collectors on the market, such as solar blankets for swimming pools. NSTF services include developing and testing solar space- and water-heating systems and photovoltaic modules and systems. The facility tests materials used by the automotive, telecommunication and building industries. A single ultra-power Vortek lamp can simulate sunlight indoors over large areas, and the company produces smaller area simulators using Xenon and Metal Halide lighting. The first solar simulator was delivered to a major Canadian test facility in 1980 and uses a proprietary ultra-power water wall argon arc technology. The latest single-lamp systems are used for solar simulation on 3×4 m area, and can be used with both thin-film and amorphous PV cells.
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