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The Louisiana Solar Technology Applied Research and Testing (START) Lab

Led by Terrence L. Chambers, Ph.D., P.E., the Louisiana START Lab performs fundamental and applied research on new solar energy technologies, with a significant emphasis on economic development, education, and outreach.

The heart of the Louisiana START Lab is the nation's first university owned and operated pilot-scale solar thermal power plant.

Funded by over $3M from the DOE, NSF, ED, LDNR, and Cleco Power, LLC, the START Lab provides a platform for the applied research and testing of novel solar technologies, and evaluating the performance of existing solar energy technologies in Louisiana.  We are pursuing the DOE's goal to make solar energy cost competitive without subsidies by 2020.

Solar Technologies

START Lab personnel are doing research in the areas of solar thermal, photovoltaic, concentrating photovoltaic, thermal energy storage, and smart grids.

Economic Development


The START Lab promotes economic development by: 1) assisting small to medium sized businesses develop and commercialize new solar energy products, 2) by encouraging solar energy businesses to locate in Louisiana, and 3) by helping to develop local expertise in the design, development, manufacturing, and deployment of solar technologies.

Education and Outreach

The START Lab has made education and outreach a priority.  It has done this in several ways.  A Department of Education grant was implemented to teach alternative energy concepts across NAFTA countries.  An interactive virtual reality (VR) game has been created to teach solar energy concepts to high school students.  An NSF grant was received to make that VR game, and local solar energy exerts, available to schools across the country through the use of high speed networks.  By reaching out to the community through numerous local events, we hope to motivate and inspire the next generation STEM workforce.