APS STAR Center redeployed
For the last 25 years, the Solar Test and Research (STAR) Center is where Arizona Public Service has worked with manufacturers, universities and government labs to propel technological advancements in converting solar energy into electricity. The goal? To find technologies that would allow solar energy to become a viable resource option for customers.
Success on that front means the STAR Center takes on a new role.
Personnel and focus have transitioned from technology research to solar operations and maintenance. The chief focus is to provide cost-effective support to ensure optimal system production and research the long-term reliability of our solar investments.
Today, more than 21,500 megawatts of solar have been developed globally, with APS having more than 500 megawatts either online or in development. Manufacturers the world over produce roof-integrated tiles; mono- or poly-crystalline photovoltaic panels; solar box ovens; evacuated tube collectors and glazed flat plate collectors; hybrid solar-thermal systems; hybrid solar lighting systems; solar pumps, fans, and switchable windows; mirrors and tracking systems used in trough/parabolic mirror concentrators; and thermal storage systems. And while listing innovations, I’d be remiss not to mention the increasing deployment of passive solar design – well-known to historians and architects, but never studied on site.
This technological cornucopia has overflowed since the STAR Center opened in 1985, and innovation will doubtless continue.
Now, APS is looking to find solutions to the next set of challenges associated with renewable energy. Namely, how the intermittency from solar and wind resources affects APS’s ability to provide reliable and affordable electricity to customers.
So, while the STAR Center will no longer be open to testing and research of new solar technologies, the solar installations currently in place will remain in operation. A majority of the solar panels at STAR will continue to operate and provide clean energy to customers on the APS grid. Those panels that were removed were re-deployed to other solar projects or returned to the manufacturers.
Further, the STAR Center is now also serving as a working laboratory for those learning to install solar electric systems – or for installation companies who are pursuing continuing education opportunities. Though its mission has changed, APS STAR Center will enjoy a long future of service to APS customers and the solar industry.
Contributed by Renee Guillory, DE Partnership Manager, Arizona Public Service
Past and Present Research