ACEP Solar Test Site for High Latitude

ACEP Solar Test Site for High Latitude

Solar photovoltaic panels are becoming a viable, economic energy source in a number of locations around Alaska to offset high energy costs. The technology is especially attractive due to the lack of moving parts requiring little to no maintenance in extreme, remote conditions.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and Sandia National Laboratories recently broke ground on a solar PV test site on the Fairbanks campus, located at about 65 degrees north latitude. The goal of the inaugural installation is to characterize performance enhancements of bifacial solar PV panels at high latitudes. Previous studies show bifacial PV panels outperforming monofacial panels by 17-132%. These enhancements should be even more prominent in Alaska, due to albedo effects from snow and low temperatures in winter, as well as large solar azimuth range.

With a focus now primarily on solar PV technology, ACEP Solar Technologies Program is working to responsibly increase the use of solar PV in Alaska and the Arctic where it is technically and economically warranted. ACEP instigated the first solar data collection in 2012 related to solar thermal systems in the Arctic; since then, we have witnessed dramatic decreases in the price of solar technology in Alaska, following global trends.

We are working toward this goal by improving our understanding and measurement of the Alaska solar resource, identifying new technologies and novel configurations that can improve energy outputs and ease integration concerns, and improving our understanding of the cost and performance of existing systems along with common failure modes. In addition, the Solar Technologies Program works closely with solar installers, utilities and the Power Systems Integration Program at ACEP to identify best practices for integrating solar PV technology into small grids to achieve maximum cost savings and grid stability.


ACEP's solar photovoltaic test site on the UAF campus helps researchers to responsibly increase the use of solar PV in Alaska. Photo by Amanda Byrd.