By Joshua S. Stein, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories; Bruce H. King, Principal Member of the Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories
Because most of the costs of developing a PV power plant are paid before any energy is generated, optimizing the energy production from the plant is critical during plant design. Lost energy and increased operations costs due to non-optimal site characterization, technology choice, plant design, installation and other factors result in lower
energy production and a higher levelized cost of energy (LCOE). Many design decisions are based on results from PV performance models. Current PV performance models can represent only some of the differences between sites, technologies, designs and operations choices. This paper provides a description of what is currently known about
some of the performance tradeoffs faced by PV plant designers and operators. It presents a vision for improving PV performance models so that in the near future a full optimization can be carried out to improve the performance and lower the costs of PV plants. This will hasten the adoption of clean energy production from the sun.