Solar Research

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) is the home of the National Solar Thermal Testing Facility, which provides data for the design, construction and operation of components used in solar thermal power plants that concentrate the sun’s rays to generate power.

Sandia’s Photovoltaic Systems Evaluation Lab (PSEL) provides expertise and test support within several facilities and outdoor sites for evaluating PV and other distributed energy technologies.

The Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) at Los Alamos National Laboratory explores the unique physics of nanostructured materials to boost the efficiency of solar energy conversion through novel light-matter interactions, controlled excited-state dynamics, and engineered carrier-carrier coupling. 

Wind Energy Research

The Atmospheric Modeling Team in the Computational Earth Sciences Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is studying the interaction between wind turbines and atmospheric boundary layer flows.

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) operates the following wind research facilities:

  • The Advanced Simulation and Computing program helps achieve overall wind energy cost reductions and increased turbine performance.  Recent wind research at the facility has supported advancement in designing more effective wind turbine blades by predicting their performance and behaviors before they are built, developing wind turbine blade noise prediction methods, and improving the ability to predict power-generation impacts from wakes and the motion of air within an array of wind turbines. 
  • The Facility for Antenna and Radar Cross-Section Measurement is used for researching the manufacture of wind turbine blades with radar-absorbing materials.
  • The Lightening Simulator is used for research related to turbine blade damage caused by lightning strikes.
  • The Scaled Wind Farm Technology Facility is used for research to improve wind plant performance and test new wind turbine components.
  • The Wake Imaging Measurement System measures the wind turbine wake phenomena researchers need to develop solutions to wind plant underperformance.

Sources of information for Wind Energy Research: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

Energy Storage Research

New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) Renewable Energy and Thermal Systems Laboratory (RETherms Lab) focuses on areas of research to make energy generation, storage, and transmission more efficient.  Projects underway in 2019 include:

  • Development of a novel solar still for low cost low energy water desalination
  • Novel heat transfer enhancement technology for phase change thermal energy storage systems
  • Design and development of novel metal hydride hydrogen storage systems
  • Assessment of renewable energy options for a commercial airport


Sandia National Laboratories’ energy storage program addresses a range of topics in materials and systems as well as power electronics related to energy storage.  Sandia researchers have addressed the high cost of membranes – a critical bottleneck in flow battery commercialization – by developing a new class of polymeric membranes with superior electrochemical properties and lower cost starting materials.  Along with conducting extensive research in battery technologies, including lower temperature Na batteries and rechargeable alkaline batteries, Sandia has also developed lightweight nanocomposite materials for flywheels with increased rotational speeds. 

Battery Materials: Sandia has a large portfolio of R&D projects related to advanced materials to support the development of lower cost energy storage technologies including new battery chemistries, electrolyte materials, and membranes.

Systems Analysis:  Sandia has extensive infrastructure to evaluate megawatt-hour class energy storage systems in a grid-tied environment to enable industry acceptance of new energy storage technologies.

Systems Reliability: Sandia is performing research in a number of areas on the reliability and safety of energy storage systems including simulation, modeling, and analysis, from cell components to fully-integrated systems.

Cell & Module Level Safety: Sandia has exceptional capabilities to evaluate fundamental safety mechanisms from cell to module level for applications ranging from electric vehicles to military systems.

Power Conversion Systems: Leveraging exceptional strengths in power electronics, Sandia has unique capabilities to characterize the reliability of power electronics and power conversion systems.

Grid Analytics: Analytical and multi-physics models to understand risk and safety of complex systems, optimization, and efficient utilization of energy storage systems in the field.