Newport Corporation's (Irvine, CA) Photovoltaic Testing and Calibration Laboratory (PV Lab), administered out of the ILX Lightwave (a Newport company) facility in Bozeman, MT, provides an independent verification of solar-cell device performance and is the only commercial laboratory whose results are published in the Solar Cell Efficiency Tables, which are in turn published by the journal Progress in Photovoltaics.
The Newport PV Lab works closely with the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL; Golden, CO) to ensure that its calibration and certification results are accurate and consistent. The performance of PV devices is certified in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025:2005—an international standard describing the conditions under which an "ideal" calibration laboratory should operate, requiring meticulous documentation of procedures and continuous maintenance of measurement, training records, and equipment calibrations. All measurements are traceable to the International System of Units (SI) through a documented, unbroken chain of calibrations, each of which contributes to the overall uncertainty in the final measurement.
Currently, the Newport PV Lab can provide results on new material systems four times faster than some government labs—a critical capability considering that novel prototype materials may only have a physical lifetime of a few days if not yet engineered for environmental stability. And in the case of split-cell irradiance sensors, which are necessary for monitoring incident sunlight on utility-scale solar arrays, a rapid return of the calibrated sensors also maximizes the profitability of the array by minimizing measurement downtime. Contact Geoffrey Wicks, PV Lab manager & application scientist, at [email protected].