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Solar Story Heating Up

It's Cinderella time for solar. And a German company is playing fairy godmother.

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The Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory at Arizona State University has truly been an overlooked asset, stuck with hand-me-down buildings at the Polytechnic Campus in Mesa. Yet the lab is one place where Arizona is a major leader in solar. It's one of the only sites in the world that certifies solar panels, a stamp of approval that many countries require before companies can market their products.
With the recent boom in solar power, the lab has a surge of business that's overwhelming its facilities. At the same time, competitors are jumping into the market. The result was like sending Cinderella to the ball in her rags.
Now, TUV Rheinland is teaming with Arizona State University to transform the photovoltaic lab into a state-of-the-art, world-class facility. The company will provide all the investment money to expand the lab at a new site in Tempe.
The collaboration will be structured as a new private company called TUC Rheinland PTL. The German partner will have a 70 percent stake, while a holding company formed on behalf of ASU will own the rest.
All of this is far more complex than a wave of the wand. The efforts to put the collaboration together included months of work by ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.
The transformation is as dramatic as turning a pumpkin into a coach.
Besides cash, TUV Rheinland brings extensive management experience, marketing skills and an international network of contacts. Arizona Public Service will also play a role, providing 5 acres for outdoor testing at its Solar Test and Research Center. It's an extra jolt of energy for the STAR Center, which was established 23 years ago.
Now, Arizona's assets in photovoltaic testing can really shine. They include an extensive client list, a solid body of solar research, testing techniques developed on a shoestring and such outstanding talent as lab director Mani Tamizh-Mani. The new resources and connections can be leveraged to boost solar research.
The new photovoltaic testing collaboration shouldn't be a happy ending for solar. It should be a happy beginning.
Source: The Arizona Republic