The Center for Solar Energy

The Center for Solar Energy’s programs center around the 50 MW multi-technology solar deployment, comprised of leading domestic and international solar companies that represent all product classes. Technologies that are proven, bankable and at the forefront of performance will provide the basis for the Center’s research, development, education, community involvement and manufacturing programs.

All technologies will be optimized by single- or dual-axis tracking, utilize the best utility-level inverters and be constructed by the same contractor for a truly level playing field comparison.

The incubation program includes a demonstration site allowing that allows private and product development comparisons of new and emergent technologies with the main technology fields, comprised of some 50 MW’s+, and over 100 manufacturers. This allows lets new technologies to receive all of the main field’s extensive performance data, allowing them to compare themselves against that baseline.

The majority of the data will not be available outside of the Center and the University’s programs, but limited data will be available on the TAMUCT & CSE websites, and published in connection with Renewable Energy World’s printed and online publications. A rating system devised by the University and the Center – akin to a Consumer Reports rating – will be utilized. Published data will serve consumers while private data will prove useful to financial institutions, contractors, manufacturers and the military, in determining the best technologies for their needs and regions based on production, price, and other metrics.   

Educational programs and research opportunities exist at numerous levels, from short-term certificate, training and re-training programs to longer entrepreneurial programs, baccalaureate degrees and advanced degrees in a host of disciplines.

The Center’s Foundation will serve the Center and the University by running the National Photovoltaic Innovation Competition, managing curriculum development and programs while raising funds for scholarships and other Center projects.

The Center for Solar Energy will also provide opportunities for the general public and students of all grade levels to visit the facility and tour the demonstration site.  Groups shall have the opportunity to learn more about solar, the University’s research and programs through tours and scheduled programs at the Visitor’s Center.    

The National Photovoltaic Innovation Competition will be run in conjunction with the University and Foundation annually, providing a steady stream of new and emergent technologies that will benefit from the incubation program. Through the competition, several technologies will receive significant cash awards along with sponsored scholarships into the program.

The focus of the competition and incubation program is to discover and support near-term product innovations that are capable of immediately affecting the market.

The incubation program will offer world-class engineering analysis and review, product optimization, performance testing and certification, UL application assistance and submission, installation methodologies, O and M protocols and a manufacturing cost analysis. The program will also include market analysis, technological comparisons, full business plan creation, cost analysis and market forecasting.

Since participating technologies will go through the majority of their development process while in the incubation program, products at the conclusion of their process should be ready for manufacturing, all with a relatively known market position, certified performance and output, and even UL certification.

Graduating technologies do so with known product viability, proven market position, an accurate cost analysis, and manufacturing partners in place. At this point, , now an investment can be made at a significantly lower dollar amount with a higher confidence level for market success, all in a fraction of the time the process normally takes for most emerging companies. Such positioning and development will help better position program participants for venture capital partnerships that benefit all parties with the lowest possible investment.

Technologies that ultimately do not prove themselves viable, are not cost effective or perform inadequately are eliminated prior to more substantial investment, resulting in minimal losses on those technologies.

Local manufacturing partners, equipped with new manufacturing methodologies could produce multiple technologies from the same manufacturing facility, utilizing manufacturing "pods" that can perform different functions and can change their functionality and processes for divergent products. This allows for manufacturing that is not based on any one product or technology. Instead, it is market driven, which allows for manufacturing at a net cost that will be less than or equal to a single source fabrication. Hence, there will be a need for locally trained technicians and engineers, as this “intuitive” factory will bring new high tech manufacturing jobs to the regional market.