Solar & Wind Energy
Solar technologies can be broadly characterized as active or passive, depending on the way the sun’s energy is captured and converted into a usable form of energy for consumption. Active solar technology includes equipment that converts the sun’s energy into electricity directly through photovoltaic panels or indirectly by the use of concentrating systems (trough or tower); passive solar techniques include such options as orienting a building relative to the sun’s rays or selecting materials with light-dispersing properties. Exponent's engineers often work with an interdisciplinary approach that includes electrical, mechanical, and materials engineers in order to address issues related to solar system design, construction, startup, commissioning, maintenance, operation, and performance.
Photovoltaic (PV) Devices and Plants
We have knowledge and expertise related to photovoltaic (PV) devices and systems, which include:
- Wafer-based crystalline silicon (single, poly or multi, and string ribbon)
- Thin films (amorphous)
- Concentrating photovoltaics-based on high-efficiency silicon or multi-junction solar cells
- DC/AC Inverters
Exponent consulting services include:
- Failure analysis of devices, modules, and systems using material, mechanical, electrical and electronics, and thermal science and engineering disciplines.
- Efficiency assessments related to device fabrication, low-cost packaging, throughput evaluation, and system topology
- Reliability evaluation and testing
- Research and prototype development support
- Regulatory consulting and exposure analysis during installation and use, as well as recycling/disposal at the end of life
- Literature reviews and studies designed to test the off-gassing of toxic materials from devices
- Epidemiology research, risk assessments, and best management practices
Concentrating Solar Power Plants (CSP) and Technologies
We have knowledge, expertise, and experience in various types of solar thermal energy concentrating technologies including parabolic trough and solar power tower, as well as various thermal energy storage (TES) technologies such as molten salt and oil. We have investigated various issues at CSPs across the globe including issues related to:
- Collectors and concentrators
- Heat trasnfer systems and devices
- Heat exchangers and fluid heaters including molten salt to heat transfer fluid (HTF) systems
- Steam generators and boilers
- Molten salt tanks and receivers
Exponent consulting services include:
- Failure analysis of equipment, modules, systems, and plants using material, mechanical, electrical and electronics, and thermal science and engineering disciplines.
- Analysis and evaluation of system and equipment design, construction, startup, commissioning, maintenance, operation, and performance.
Our wind energy knowledge includes first-hand experience with the construction, operation, and maintenance of power plants and their components, and with the investigation of issues such as availability and reliability related to generating plants, as well as the technical issues unique to wind turbine technology (e.g., electrical generator performance, over-speed failure, composite materials, hydraulic leakage, tribology, etc.). This expertise extends to complex ecological monitoring, permitting, and endangered species studies and human health evaluations.
Exponent has worked closely with electric utilities in matters related to power generation, distribution, and transmission. These studies and investigations range from line-siting studies to the failure and root-cause analysis of major electrical equipment issues. Our engineers and scientists have the expertise needed to analyze complex problems associated with wind turbine systems such as special electrical generators, power electronic systems in control systems and electrical systems needed to interface to the electric power systems. Our electrical staff has expertise in both AC and DC transmission systems.
Exponent is routinely retained to examine the design, materials, manufacturing, and operational issues involved in wind turbines and similar equipment. Our engineers provide support throughout the lifetime of wind turbines, including the selection of potential sites, permitting and construction, long-term maintenance, monitoring and troubleshooting, and root-cause analysis when failures occur.