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Field Considerations for PV

In the quest to reach grid parity – generally defined as getting the cost of PV below $1/Watt – the focus has largely been on increasing cell and module efficiency, while reducing manufacturing costs. Another important aspect, however, is the cost of installation and maintenance, and the efficiency of the overall PV installation. A sharpened focus on the so-called "balance-of-systems", which includes wiring, switches, support racks, inverters and even the land, could result in significant cost savings.

In this issue of Photovoltaics World, Matt Denninger of Advance Energy Industries, describes how PV system operation and maintenance is often an overlooked factor by system designers (Read the Article). This isn’t rocket science: Issues such as unsealed enclosures and conduits, loose connections, and even damage caused by insects, reptiles and rodents can all detract from the performance of the PV system. It’s sobering to think about all the advanced technology being brought to bear on PV manufacturing, only for it to be derailed in the field by something as mundane as mouse droppings! The solution could be as simple as improved data collection and benchmarking.

This theme is continued in a second feature that delves into issues related specifically to inverters, including airflow/cooling, environmental protection, operations and maintenance concerns, and EMI shielding. Author Steven Leidig of Crenlo notes that the sun could be shining at optimum levels, but if the inverter is not converting that power to its full potential, the cost of that lost efficiency will be passed on to the end user (Read the Article).

While large, utility-level PV system installations are exciting in that they could lead to high growth for the PV industry, installations in rural areas are equally important. Srinivasamohan Narayanan of Hanwha SolarOne notes that the breakthrough of residential solar and mini-grid systems in the developing world may prove a more transformative event for the future of solar PV (Read the Article). Solar manufacturers should be prepared for surges in stand-alone system demand, independent of existing grid-tied demand, as the push for clean electric power increases in the developing world, he writes.


Rooftop Solar Panels

Hypocrisy? While Buffett Champions Renewables, His Company Fights Rooftop Solar

Mark Chediak, Noah Buhayar and Margaret Newkirk, Bloomberg Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power.
Japan Microgrid

Born from Disaster: Japan Establishes First Microgrid Community

Junko Movellan, Correspondent Although Japan's Fukushima prefecture is most commonly associated with the 2011 disaster due to the nuclear power melt-down, Miyazaki prefecture, located north of Fukushima, suffered from the largest death toll, close to 10...
Renewable Energy Finance

Clean Energy ETFs Are on a Tear

Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Green investing used to be synonymous with losing money. But while the S&P 500 Index is up 2 percent this year, and the MSCI All-Country World Index is up 5 percent, clean energy ETFs have double-digit re...

Wheels, Towers and Trees: Unconventional Renewable Energy Technologies in the Pipeline

Andrew Williams, International Correspondent A number of companies around the world are developing novel technologies in an effort to grab a slice of the global renewable energy market.  Although many of these technologies are simple incremental improvements to e...


Volume 18, Issue 3


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