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What's happening around the world in the solar industry and how it might affect you

SolarTAC introduces incubator program to give solar startups a leg up

The SolarTAC testing facility. Courtesy SolarTACThe largest solar testing facility in the U.S., if not the world, Aurora, Col.’s, Solar Technology Acceleration Center (SolarTAC) is introducing a new incubator and showcase program to help solar start-up companies test and demonstrate new solar products. The site is offering two-year incubator packages for the first time.

The solar testing facility is located on 74 acres of land close to Denver International Airport where companies can test their products in real world conditions. The land is flat and the location gets more than 300 days of sunshine annually. As such it’s an ideal location to test solar devices and, with its proximity to the airport and the nearby National Renewable Energy Laboratory—which is incidentally a partner in the facility, makes it easy for potential buyers of the technologies being tested to visit the facility to evaluate firsthand how the technology is performing.

However, the products being tested at SolarTAC to date are of a larger scale, products ready for the commercial solar market. The new incubator program was designed to allow start-ups to test new products on a smaller scale, at less cost, according to the facility. “Affordable two-year packages are based on the product’s entry into the U.S. marketplace,” it said.

The incubator program will also allow the startups to test and evaluate their new technologies in real world conditions. The tests will allow them to make sure their products are performing as expected and will help them as they move towards scaling up production. It will also help them show why their technology should be considered by potential investors.

The testing facility is managed by MRIGlobal on behalf of its members, which include Xcel Energy, Abengoa Solar, SunEdison, Amonix, the Alliance for Sustainable Energy (NREL), the Electric Power Research Institute, and Hittite Solar Energy.

While it’s currently the largest open-space testing facility in the U.S., it may soon be the second largest. Texas A&M University recently announced that it plans to build a solar testing facility on 800 acres of land. It anticipated that the facility will cost $600 million. “The system will host the largest assortment of photovoltaic technologies in the world and serve as a true test site for leading-edge technologies, leading to thousands of clean energy jobs in Central Texas,” the university said of the facility. As part of that project, it will also feature an incubator program to help new solar technologies get off the ground. 

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