Solar energy has become a prominent renewable energy source (RES) worldwide, along with wind energy and wave energy. The utilization of solar energy covers nowadays finds many application such as: domestic hot water (DHW) production, space heating, and pool heating, and even cooling, by the means of systems. Moreover, solar energy could be employed for the electricity generation, such in the case of photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on buildings or used for stand-alone applications. A solar simulator (also artificial sun) is a device that provides illumination of natural sunlight. The purpose of the solar simulator is to provide a controllable indoor test facility under laboratory conditions, utilized for the testing of solar cells, sun screen, plastics, and other materials and devices. A solar simulator consists of three major components: light source, associated power supply optics, and filters required to modify the output beam to meet the classification requirements.
The optical layout of a solar simulator varies including: the type and number of light sources employed, the area of illumination generated, the spectral output generated, etc. Considering the basic solar simulators type there are majorly greater areas between manufacturers such as parabolic reflector, mixing mirror, IR clipping filter. High power solar simulators utilize ellipsoidal reflectors to capture light from an arc lamp source (usually xenon) inside the reflectors, an arrangement that results in a light pattern with a bright outer region and a dark center.
Based on the by type solar simulators can be classified into class AAA, class ABA, and Class ABB. Class AAA type solar simulators are mostly used in photobiology, biomedical, and solar cell testing. The other two major classifications are based on by type and lamp wattage. In terms of type of lamp, the solar simulator market can be segmented into LED and Xenon. The Xenon arc lamp segment is expected to expand during the forecast period due to the supported technology, output consistency, and better range, needed for illuminating samples that are tested. In terms of application, the solar simulator market can be segmented into PV cell/module and materials testing, UV testing of materials and products, automotive testing, biomass study, and others.
The PV requirements for utility, residential, and nonresidential applications are anticipated to drive the expansion of the solar simulator market. Other expansion opportunities are due to the simulator devices, which are also utilized to test the health and operability of PV modules and PV materials employed in manufacturing.
APAC is a key region for the solar simulator market, and is anticipated to expand similarly during the forecast period. The countries in Asia and their governments’ support for the development and commercialization of advanced PV technologies supporting the overall market growth. The solar simulators use a single lamp design to meet Class A requirements for not one or two, but all three performance criteria without compromising their output power. The temperature sensors and interlocks ensures the operator safety.
Key companies operating in the solar simulators market are Newport Corporation, Meyer Burger Technology, Gsolar power company limited, Spire solar, Solar Light Company, Abet Technologies Inc., and Spectrolab Inc.