3M’s Cottage Grove, Minnesota facility is the site of the company’s Solar Weathering Center, which joins several weathering stations around the world. The company designed the weathering center to handle side-by-side comparisons of solar energy systems, which use 3M products such as its Ultra Barrier Solar Film, 3M Scotchshield Film Backsheets and 3M Solar Mirror Film.
The installation of 100 PV and CPV modules at the center is scheduled to be completed this summer, which will also house parabolic troughs in order to test products used in concentrated solar thermal systems. The Solar Weathering Center has additional plans to incorporate testing facilities for BIPV solar applications in the future.
“For decades, 3M has vigorously tested the weatherability of its products in its accelerated Weathering Resource Center and at multiple outdoor sites worldwide, to optimize designs and ensure reliability and performance over extended periods of time. This expertise is crucial to the solar industry, where systems are expected to perform for 25 years or more,” said Steve Hedrick, technical director with the 3M Renewable Energy Division. “We are confident our new outdoor Solar Weathering Center will allow us to further improve upon our exceptional solar product portfolio and better serve our global customer base.”
3M researchers will be able to study the data that the Solar Weathering Center generates using an automated data center and weather station that will monitor the systems’ output, temperature and humidity in unforgiving weather conditions.