BrightSpot Automation, LLC News Release: InnovateMass Award from MassCEC for Development of LoadSpot-Mobile Solar Panel Tester
February 9, 2017 – Westford, MA
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has announced funding of a BrightSpot Automation R&D project to develop a new solar panel testing tool under its InnovateMass program. Multiple Massachusetts companies are partners in the project to assist in specifications, design reviews, and field testing of the tool, including Acuity Power Group, Borrego Solar, and Boston Community Capital.
The goal of the project is to develop the LoadSpot-Mobile tool to quickly test solar panel performance in the field and to quantify damage due to cracked solar cells before the panels are installed. Success in the project will result in:
1) export revenues and Massachusetts manufacturing jobs related to sales of the testing equipment
2) an increase in the energy delivery and revenue from PV systems in-state and worldwide
3) a decrease in PV plant operations & maintenance costs from catching problematic panels prior to installation
4) a mechanism to help steer panel buyers toward panels of superior quality which will inherently favor the use of domestically made products
Dr. Andrew Gabor, CTO of BrightSpot: “We are grateful to the MassCEC for their support under the InnovateMass program, and we thank them for their confidence in our company. The durability of solar panels overall is superb, but small difference in panel degradation rates can make a big difference over the years in terms of system revenue and maintenance costs. The problem is that system investors are largely unaware of difference in panel quality, and have few tools to allow them to either distinguish between panels form different manufacturers to even help them optimize their shipping, handling, and installation procedures. A large percentage of panels delivered to the field contain cells with cracks that cause little or no power loss on day 1, but over time the cracks can gradually open up and reduce system energy delivery. Our existing LoadSpot laboratory tool has demonstrated the ability to predict power loss due to deterioration of cracked cells, and with the LoadSpot-Mobile we will bring our Predictive Crack Opening Test into the field using IV and Electroluminescence testing. In this way installers can confirm the incoming quality of the panels and make sure they are getting what they paid for.
Brendan Neagle, COO of Borrego: “By partnering with MassCEC and BrightSpot on this project, we're taking an active role in the testing of the LoadSpot-Mobile tool so that it effectively meets the needs of the PV industry. BrightSpot's products target critical problems we face that affect panel power generation, such as cracked solar panels and panel durability. We at Borrego Solar are consistently working to deliver better value to our customers, which means we seek out opportunities to vet and hopefully implement new technologies. We're looking forward to seeing the results of this project with BrightSpot."
Robert Lockhart, Managing Director of Acuity Power Group: “We have been greatly impressed both with the quality and value of BrightSpot’s high-resolution electroluminescence camera system for detecting damage within solar panels, and with their vision for improving panel durability. Acuity Power Group is excited to work with them and MassCEC throughout the specification, design review, and field-testing segments of this project.”
“By making key investments in early-stage companies, we can help these local startups address persistent funding gaps and increase business opportunities,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “Through continued assistance to help develop Massachusetts’ vibrant innovation sector, the Commonwealth is positioned to benefit from increased job creation, technology development, and economic activity throughout the state.”
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is a publicly-funded agency dedicated to accelerating the success of clean energy technologies, companies and projects in the Commonwealth—while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. Since it began operating in 2009, MassCEC has helped clean energy companies grow, supported municipal clean energy projects and invested in residential and commercial renewable energy installations, creating a robust marketplace for innovative clean technology companies and service providers.
About BrightSpot Automation, LLC
BrightSpot Automation builds innovative manufacturing and measurement tools with a focus on improving solar panel durability and performance. Tools include the LoadSpot mechanical load tester, the ContactSpot contact resistivity cell tester, and the EL-Spot low-cost and high-resolution electroluminescence camera systems. The company is based in Westford, MA.