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Investigating the impact of weather variables on the energy yield and cost of energy of grid-connected solar concentrator systems

Fernández, Eduardo F., Talavera, D.L., Almonacid, Florencia M., Smestad, Greg P.
Energy 2016 v.106 pp. 790-801
climatic factors, economic valuation, electricity, energy, light intensity, power plants, solar collectors, solar energy, temperature, weather
This work connects the electrical performance and economics of High Concentrator Photovoltaic technology beyond the cell and module levels. It analyses the impact of fundamental variables on the calculated energy output and economics of a typical system for real-world solar power plants in five locations with diverse climatic conditions. It was found that there exists a nearly linear relationship between the Final Energy Yield and the average direct normal irradiance, while the cell temperature and spectral AC energy losses ranged from 4.6% to 1.8% and 5.0%–2.4%. The LCOE (Levelised Cost of Electricity) calculations used these insights, together with the specific economic values for each location. The results show that the locations with the higher annual energy yield tend to have the lower LCOE values. In particular, the LCOE ranged from 5.5 c€/kWh to 22.2 c€/kWh for a conservative scenario. However, the sites with the highest final yield do not necessarily present the lowest values of LCOE. The results emphasize the interrelationship between the instantaneous effects of cell temperature and spectrum on the performance of the system, as well as the importance of considering the specific economic parameters to estimate the LCOE at each location.