Standard steps in modeling PV plant performance (from the PV Performance Modeling Collaborative).

The wide variety of PV system technologies and designs, site conditions, and operations strategies means that complex PV system performance models are needed to represent PV plant performance. While PV component and system costs are rapidly falling, the upfront costs of PV (before any energy is generated) remain high.

Stein & King’s (both in the Photovoltaics and Distributed Systems Dept.) article, “Modelling for PV Plant Optimization,” addresses these issues. Because most PV power plant development costs are paid before any energy is generated, optimizing energy production during plant design is critical. PV performance model results drive many design decisions. Current PV performance models can represent only some of the differences between sites, technologies, designs and operations choices.

Their paper describes known performance tradeoffs faced by PV plant designers and operators and presents a vision for improving PV performance models to improve PV plant performance and lower costs—hastening solar clean energy production adoption.

View the Photovoltaics International issue preview (purchase link).