Solar Photovoltaic Test Site

The number of installed solar arrays in cold climates and northern latitudes is increasing  as the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power is now at or less than the cost of fossil fuel generation, and this trend is also true in Alaska. Testing solar PV installations in Alaska’s extreme conditions provides unparalleled opportunities for troubleshooting and refining options that can be used throughout the state as well as other remote and isolated communities, islands, and military bases around the world.  In addition, a significant portion of the world’s population lives in mid-latitude to northern regions, which also periodically experience snow and cold temperatures, and Alaska is a test bed for expanding into this relatively new solar market. The ACEP solar test site is located in Fairbanks, Alaska, where temperatures range from -40͒C in the winter to 30͒C in the summer.  During the time around summer solstice the sun rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest and is above the horizon for over 20 hours.  

Image showing the solar test facility layout


Test Site Features

  • Two monofacial and two bifacial modules mounted at a 60 degree tilt angle facing south.
  • Two vertically oriented east-west facing bifacial modules
  • All modules at the test site are grid connected through microinverters
  • The test site is equipped to collect meteorological and power generation data one minute averages and all sensors are cleaned weekly.
  • Additional details about the test site can be found in this peer-reviewed publication.

Irradiance instrumentation collects the following data:

  • Albedo
  • Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI)
  • Global Normal Irradiance (GNI)
  • Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI)
  • Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance (DHI)
  • Plane of array and rear plane of array irradiance measured with reference cells

Meteorological instrumentation:

  • Ambient Temperature and Relative Humidity
  • Wind Speed and Direction
  • PV Module Temperature
  • Rainfall
  • Barometric Pressure


Designed for multiple PV module orientations, the solar test site on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, developed in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories in 2018, features bifacial panels and state-of-the-art meteorological and power monitoring equipment to measure ambient weather conditions as well as direct, diffuse, and global solar radiation.  The data collected provides insight into the benefits of these and other emerging technologies in northern locations to inform the leading edge in solar technology.

Solar technologies logo
Solar Technologies Research

Data analysis icon
Solar Test Site Live Data

The Bifacial Advantage

In northern latitudes, vertically mounted bifacial panels facing east and west show enhanced output relative to traditional south-facing tilted monofacial panels.  And due to the large solar azimuth at high latitudes, their production profile is also different.  

Bifacial solar test site predictions image


Our Services

ACEP works with a diverse range of academic, industry, and community partners to meet the research needs of Alaska and beyond.