Solar cell and panel testing

We provide measurement and consultancy services relating to the performance of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and modules, from lab testing to assess product quality through to outdoor testing and assessing real world performance and durability.

Our expertise

Our photovoltaics group was formed in 2005 and our lead staff have been involved in the field since the 1990s. Our research led to the first large area organic solar cell in Australia. After a decade of operation and growth we are now applying our unique infrastructure and expertise to provide assurance to the Australian industry and community of the reliability and performance of PV products.

Our services

Flash testing

Our Spire 5600SLP is a high end flash solar simulator with an adjustable pulse duration, making it suitable for all solar panel technologies, including thin film and high efficiency designs. Careful calibration using primary reference modules ensures the highest possible accuracy. Among other things the system can be used to check the rated performance of commercial PV modules.

Outdoor cell and module testing

Our outdoor research facility provides 60 individual test beds for advanced diagnostic testing of PV panels under a carefully monitored outdoor solar environment.

The facility performs calibrated current-voltage sweeps of each panel at defined intervals. The panels are installed in a defined test plane (precisely North facing with 30 degree tilt) and the temperature of each panel is logged with each measurement. Advanced solar monitoring facilities report the direct, global and diffuse solar irradiance in both the horizontal and array planes, along with the solar angle of incidence, atmospheric and weather conditions and the solar spectrum (350 - 1700 nm). Cloud conditions are recorded using 360 degree sky cameras in both the horizontal and array planes.

In between tests the solar modules are connected to the site electricity grid, providing power to the site and keeping the modules under the operating conditions they would typically see in a real PV power system. Special functions allow rapid repeat testing for extracting performance parameters such as the temperature coefficient.

We have developed software tools for correcting the output of test modules to the standard laboratory reference conditions (25°C and the AM1.5G reference spectral irradiance as per IEC 60904). This allows sensitive tracking of module performance and degradation over time.

NATA accredited cell testing

Our solar cell measurement laboratory is the only PV laboratory in the southern hemisphere to achieve National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation for the IEC17025 technical competency standard. Maintaining accreditation requires us to regularly calibrate 18 different measurement tools and conduct regular inter-comparisons with the key overseas PV laboratories. This makes us one of the most accurate laboratories in the world for measuring photovoltaic efficiency.

Electroluminescence (EL) and thermal imaging

We can also perform electroluminescence and thermal imaging for detection of cracks and hotspots.

The facilities described above were constructed with support in part from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) . ARENA was established by the Australian Government as an independent agency on 1 July 2012 to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA invests in renewable energy projects, supports research and development activities, boosts job creation and industry development, and increases knowledge about renewable energy.

Use this service

Please email or contact Dr Chris Fell for more information about the PV Performance Laboratory.

Dr Chris Fell

Principal Research Scientist · Energy

  • Phone:
    • +61 2 4960 6032
    • +61 410 542228 (Mobile)
    • +61 2 4960 6000 (Alternative)

CSIRO Energy Centre

10 Murray Dwyer Circuit,

Mayfield West NSW 2304



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