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Economic Projection of New Solar Electric Technologies as Compared to Traditional Photovoltaic Cells Joshua Rubin- Departments of Physics and Economics,

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Presentation on theme: "Economic Projection of New Solar Electric Technologies as Compared to Traditional Photovoltaic Cells Joshua Rubin- Departments of Physics and Economics,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Economic Projection of New Solar Electric Technologies as Compared to Traditional Photovoltaic Cells Joshua Rubin- Departments of Physics and Economics, Case Western Reserve University Advisor: Justin Sydnor- Department of Economics, Case Western Reserve University Fdfdsa Rationale The recent work into thin film surface mounted solar cells, at the University of Toledo and elsewhere, shows promise as to expanding the frontier for these alternative energy sources. A comparison of thin-film and traditional crystalline technologies over regional requirements and legislations might reveal the answers to some daunting questions. Would it be possible to implement either technology setup in urban or rural environments? On the consumer level, given all other factors constant which is better for a homeowner given where the live? How do the environmental factors influence a consumer’s choice in photovoltaic cells? In summary, this project will endeavor to understand the structure of the solar technologies industry as it exists and what the average American consumer should consider for their upcoming photovoltaic instillation. Background Photovoltaic cells, like other semiconductor electrical components, are silicate based n and p type difference cells. They are traditionally laid out into a highly rigid crystalline matrix, and are supported by thick layers of protective glass and promising, and will soon surpass their predecessors in all factors, given adequate consumer exposure. Abstract Nontraditional energy sources are a topic of much debate in the United States, and worldwide. Technologies such as mono-crystalline and poly-crystalline solar cells, well established low efficiency and high cost power sources, have begun to be replaced by a new generation of less efficient but significantly cheaper photovoltaic cells. In the last decade a new substrate basted cell has been developed, producing thin film photovoltaic cells. By comparing the newer approaches to the more traditional processes, through traditional economic methods such as cost-benefit analysis, this project will demonstrate the viability of each setup to the general consumer. Information such as recent trends, government legislation, environmental factors, and state electrical costs will provide a solid foundation on which to compare the technologies. Data gathered from national databases such as NREL and the EPA, will form the grounding information on which this analysis is run. This project will use baseline comparison of the characteristics of thin film photovoltaics, over state by state differences, to achieve this goal. This project will present cost-benefit comparisons of the different technologies and their potential roles as components of the American electrical grid. Methods Traditional cost-benefit analysis techniques were used to compare the two overarching technologies involved in this project. Databases such as the NREL irradiance database and the EPA photovoltaic cell statics were combined, along with the physical characteristics of the cells themselves, to run this state by state analysis. The thermal characteristics of solar cells, along with standard weathering and cloud cover, was factored into the watts produced by each cell type in each location. Some underlying assumptions for this level of instillation were made, such as the probability of installing cells on a room for a standard consumer level instillation. Over all instillations the federal and state rebates were taken into account as well. Results Solar radiation data for various points across the United States was collected from the NREL database and averaged for each of the fifty states. This month by month radiation data was then plugged into the watt generation figures for both thin-film and traditional cells. A sample of the results can be seen below in Table 2. From this monthly energy generation data and efficiency ratings for each a lifetime generation prediction was calculated to compare between the technologies. For each state an average cost of electricity value was used to estimate the consumer benefit for theses cells. These costs per kilowatt include all state and federal taxes and other figures that may skew the costs. Several forms of comparison were the Future Work Photovoltaics have a long way to develop. It will be a slow process to reach any significant level of adoption of solar cells. This project is only a very broad look into the American market for thin-film cells. Other solar techniques such as collector arrays or solar thermal may hold promise as well. From here, direct price comparison studies on a area by area basis will be necessary to determine the best applications of these, and other, solar technologies. Once thin-film cells have permeated the market for a few years, and data is available on their implementation, a time series style regression of the implementation for future projections would be ideal. The economic landscape of energy is changing every day, and it will be through the work of corporate and government capital that these technologies will blossom. Results (Cont.) Discussion Initial comparisons between the two technologies for the costs of the technologies and the investment costs reveal little about the nature of the relationship between the two. There were several states in which the traditional cells are still holding their own against thin-film on a straight cost basis given an identical total panel area. This split in the states is not surprising as many factors come into play in this cost-benefit analysis. On other comparisons such as the value of dollars invested it is clear than, hands down thin-film cells are better than their traditional counterparts. One can also observe what appears to be a nearly perfectly linear relation between the two technologies over the fifty states. It is interesting to note that the superior technology is not as prevalent in the market as this study would suggests is should be. Thin FilmTraditional Month Solar Radiation AC Energy Value Saved AC EnergyValue Saved kWh/m2/da y kWh$ $ Year Column1Unit Cost Energy Generated for 1 year Adjusted Energy Generated Average Cost of Electricity Electrical Savings for 1 year Savings over lifetime Total Saved State$kWh $/kWh$$$ Alaska (23,000.00) 13,429 10, , , , Arizona (23,000.00) 24,149 17, , , , Michigan (23,000.00) 17,078 13, , , , Ohio (23,000.00) 16,666 12, , , , Rhode Island (23,000.00) 18,634 14, , , , Column1Unit Cost Energy Generated for 1 year Adjusted Energy Generated Average Cost of Electricity Electrical Savings for 1 year Savings over lifetime Total Saved State$kWh $/kWh$$$ Alaska (10,350.00) 9,237 7, , , Arizona (10,350.00) 16,594 12, , , , Michigan (10,350.00) 11,743 9, , , Ohio (10,350.00) 11,459 8, , , Rhode Island (10,350.00) 12,810 10, , , , Table 2: Sample irradiance data, and cell generating figures, over twelve month period for the state of Alaska Table 3: Five state sample of cost-benefit analysis for thin-film photovoltaic cells Table 4: Five state sample of cost-benefit analysis for traditional photovoltaic cells Plot 5: Side by side comparison of state cost of electricity vs. array cost of thin-film and traditional PV cells Plot 6: Traditional vs. Thin-film PV cell total value (unit-less). (with 45 o line plotted) Plot 7: Traditional vs. Thin-film PV cell total savings. (with 45 o line plotted) Figure 1: Diagram of a standard photovoltaic cell. Courtesy and other materials. By comparison, the newer thin- film cells are extruded in thinner, more flexible layers that can then be attached to surfaces that traditional cells can not. The increased flexibility and durability of the newer processes allow for producers to create larger individual panels, taking advantage of economies of scale for the larger devices. Although thin-film is only at 45% efficiency of traditional cells, it has already surpassed the other in costs, weathering characteristics and environmental impact. The newer technologies look Economic Projection of New Solar Electric Technologies as Compared to Traditional Photovoltaic Cells Joshua Rubin- Departments of Physics and Economics, Case Western Reserve University Advisor: Justin Sydnor- Department of Economics, Case Western Reserve University then run for the technologies. These include the results as seen on the right in plots 5, 6, and 7. Several ways to compare the results are necessary as there are many ways to interpret the results based on which framing one approaches the problem from.


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