Sandia National Laboratories began studying the power of the sun to produce utility-scale energy in the 1960s. Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility was commissioned in 1978, spurred by the oil crisis of 1973.
Sandia’s solar researchers and librarians have spent the past few years collecting, digitizing and cataloging a host of reports, memos, blueprints, photos and more on concentrating solar power, a kind of renewable energy produced by using large mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on a tower to generate electricity. These historical research documents are now in a publicly accessible digital archive for other concentrating solar power researchers, historians, corporations and citizens to view.
“We believe being able to share this information will make the technology in general more accessible and the path to commercialization faster,” said Ken Armijo, a concentrating solar power researcher at Sandia and the project leader. “A lot of ‘what if’ questions can be answered if you look at what was documented back in the day. By having this information available, we’re saving the U.S. taxpayers money because new researchers and companies won’t need to reinvent the wheel.”
In addition to the tens of thousands of Sandia reports, hand-drawn diagrams, videos and massive floppy disks, the team worked with collaborators in Australia, South Africa, Germany, the U.S. Department of Energy and others to include their one-of-a-kind concentrating solar power documents from the same time period, Armijo said. The team hopes to expand the archive to include historical concentrating solar power documents from partners in other countries as well.
This archive project is funded by the Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and was started by Chuck Andraka, a retired Sandia engineer.
Direct to Historical Documents Dgital Archive