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Modelling for PV plant optimization

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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.

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For manufacturers who had their heads in the bunker during 2012, fighting falling ASPs and eroding margins, the nineteenth edition brings you details of what lies in store for this coming year. Wright Williams & Kelly return in this issue with their popular analysis of payback on technology buys; crucially they analyze n-type wafers, Al2O3 passivation and copper metallization. SERIS shows us how to achieve 18.7% efficiencies using low-cost etching techniques on diffused wafers. We also have two important technology roundups: CIGS from Helmholtz Berlin, and PV module encapsulation techniques from Fraunhofer ISE.

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