The NSTTF is the only test facility of its kind in the United States, providing experimental engineering data specializing in testing solar technologies, such as concentrating sunlight to heat a fluid that generates thermal energy to generate electricity. The facility is available to a wide cross-section of users for all types of solar and non-solar test applications, with projects including the U.S Air Force, NASA and even applications requiring the simulation of a nuclear blast. The ability to analyze real-time data from the heliostats was a prime requirement as part of an ongoing upgrade program, as Cheryl Ghanbari, Test Engineer of Sandia National Laboratories explains, "The heliostat field has been in operation for more than 30 years. In spite of a site-wide counter poise system the field has experienced numerous direct lightning strikes that have caused a large number of component failures. The heliostat field has 480 volt AC power out to each heliostat, that is converted to 24 V DC to drive the motors that control the heliostats in azimuth and elevation, One of our main objectives was to be able to communicate utilizing the 480 V AC powerlines. After careful market research, we identified PLC as a viable option and conducted a series of tests. Telkonet provided hours of customer support and worked closely with us to optimize their equipment into our unique application. "
Already a success, Twenty First Century Communications' Mutual Assistance Routing System (MARS) has been nominated for the 2009 Southeastern Electric Exchange (S.E.E.) Industry Excellence Award!