Primary Considerations in Setting up a Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Farms
Solar energy is one of the most widely available and sustainable energy sources. If the sun's energy is tapped, it is ten times more than all energy resources combine. Solar energy can be collected and converted into electricity using the photovoltaic system.
The photovoltaic system directly converts solar energy into electricity through solar panels or photovoltaic panels. A single PV generates around two watts, but PV can provide massive electricity when this individual cell is linked in solar panels and then in solar arrays.
This article will evaluate how the photovoltaic system works and what is needed to set up a PV Solar Farm.
How does PV System work?
Solar radiation is directly converted into electricity through photovoltaic cells (solar cells). An electric voltage is generated when light strikes the junction between a metal and a semiconductor in a solar cell. The most popular and abundant resource semiconductor is silicon. Blocks of crystalline silicon are cut into the thin wafer to make a solar cell. This wafer is processed to separate the electrical charges and form a diode on both sides. The diode is a device that lets the current flow in only one direction. It is put in between metal contacts for the electrical current to flow out of the cell easily.
5 Factors to Consider for a PV Solar Farm
There are various considerations before you set up a solar farm. We will evaluate these significant factors below.
1.Finding Suitable Location for Setting-up
Solar plants can be built anywhere as long as there is enough space for the installation. However, to maximize your solar farm's capacity, it is best to set it up with a lot of sunlight and no to minimum sun blockage. Another consideration is the availability of a power grid where you can connect the electricity produced.
2.Securing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
You will need significant investment for Photovoltaic solar installation. The projected lifetime of PV systems is about 25 years. Since it is costly to set up, a power purchase agreement of at least 20 years is needed to secure price and demand fluctuations. You need to make sure that a Purchaser is guaranteeing the off-take price.
3.Considering the Legal Framework
Legal frameworks are one of the critical concerns in setting a solar farm. A thorough assessment of these legal frameworks is needed to operate and establish the PV solar farm legally.
Some points to consider are:
- The timeframe in obtaining the permit
- Concerns on the integration of solar PV to the existing grid
- The political climate and the stand of the country for renewable energy sources where the farm is to be established
- Land use restrictions of the locality
- Policies and rewards for solar power generation
- A clear roadmap that covers the entire lifecycle of the project – from pre-operation to decommissioning
4.Deciding What Solar Panels and Other Structures to Build
To complete the photovoltaic system, you need to install the solar panels, mounting structures, and inverters to produce the electricity and convert from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) electricity used by homes and businesses. Batteries are optional for extra power storage and off-grid use.
a.Solar Panel Types
The widely available solar panels today are monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and thin-film solar panels.
- Monocrystalline silicon is built of one crystal structure and more efficient as the electron moves more freely to generate electricity. However, monocrystalline silicon is more expensive.
- The polycrystalline silicon wafer is made up of many different crystals. It is less efficient but cheaper compare to monocrystalline silicon wafers.
- Thin-film Solar panel is a new technology. This solar type is produced by amorphous silicon and other materials, including cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).
Mounting structures are used to support the solar panels, which should stand the outdoor condition. The extensively used method is rack mounting since it is robust, versatile, and easy to construct. Another used method is ground mounting, which has a tracking mechanism to move the panel following the sun's movement automatically. This mounting structure captures more solar energy but needs higher investment and maintenance costs.
Inverters transform the direct current electricity produced from solar panels to alternating current, which most homes and businesses are built of. Inverters can be a single inverter to convert electricity from all the solar panels or microinverter attached to each panel. A recently developed inverter allows two-way communication between the inverter and the electrical utility. This new inverter help balance supply and demand, reduce cost, promote grid stability, and limit power outages.
Batteries are optional technology to store excess power generated and can be utilized for off-grid used. Since solar energy is an intermittent resource, using batteries as storage can help establish power production, especially for peak season.
5.Preparing a Financial Feasibility Study
After considering all the factors above, it is critical to assess the financial feasibility of the project. Is the project profitable enough to be pursued? At what level of production level and prices can still cover all the operating expenses and financing? How many years is the payback period? How much is the expected return?
These are some of the questions that should be answered in preparing the financial feasibility. You can use a financial feasibility template tailored for PV Solar Farm in which you can input assumptions then generate the financial analysis for decision-making.
In a Nutshell:
Solar energy is prominent and has a high potential for power generation. It can also be established anywhere in the world, which makes it a good option. However, a vast investment is needed, which limits the installations of solar technology.
Assess the project's overall financial feasibility before setting it up since it will need ample resources to build and is risky.