The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), equipped with a financing fund of $ 360 million US annually, is well known in the world of renewable energy.
"With regard to the researching of renewable energy, one immediately thinks about the NREL in the US or Fraunhofer in Europe, the NREL is the global benchmark for excellence.” Simon Fafard, professor-researcher-entrepreneur to the electrical engineering faculty of the University of Sherbrooke.
In recent years, the NREL has developed a free economic assessment tool for renewable energy projects: SAM. It is intended to simplify and clarify the choices of decision-makers in industry, politics or universities in regards to any renewable energy project. For projects involving concentrating solar energy, until now - the only references were facilities with very large surfaces aiming to produce electricity in great volume.
The parabolic solar concentration technologies used to produce process heat, such as those developed by Rackam, were not yet included due to the fact that they were too new at the time.
Now, a large study of the Californian market produced by the NREL in November of 2015 proved that parabolic solar concentration is very profitable and promising for process heat production. This study corroborates Rackam’s internal evaluation of this market and thus validates its business plan.
The market being as promising as it is, the NREL has decided to continue their research and find worldwide technological and industrial references in order to integrate them into their online assessment tool.
This past 8th of December, a team from the NREL in Golden, Colorado contacted Rackam in order to make its technology a reference for parabolic solar concentration applied to process heat.
In the coming months, the NRL team will therefore study the technical characteristics of Rackam’s S10 and S20 collectors for referencing in their catalogue (SAM). Conversely, the NREL has committed to providing the necessary performance reports and financial evaluation of projects submitted to Rackam by potential customers, pending the adjustments’ availability on their online tool.
The contribution of this indirect validation and objective of the NREL will therefore definitely contribute to the growth of this new niche market. Current and future customers of Rackam will be even better equipped and serviced. They will be able to obtain all of the necessary information to make the most sensible choices to produce process heat from the sun's energy.