The next big step - Optimizing the performance of PV power assets


By Steve Hanawalt, Founding Partner, Power Factors, LLC

To achieve project cash flow expectations, it is necessary to operate, maintain and optimize the performance of a PV power asset to meet or exceed the pro forma operating assumptions. To assume as given the achievement of these model assumptions is both naive and risky. Experience in operating the largest fleet of solar PV power plants in the world has demonstrated that project financial hurdle rates can be missed by as much as 25% if the plant is not well maintained and its performance is not optimized. Conversely, an optimized PV asset can generate cash flows 2–10% higher than expected if the optimization approach described in this paper is implemented.

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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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