There are several approaches of solar power systems optimization and project feasibility evaluation. Every company has their own way to do that. The standards that are often used are: energy yield, internal rate of return levelized cost of electricity.
Each of these methods is completely different. It’s important to understand their benefits and limitations.
1. Energy output optimization
In this approach, the main goal is to harvest the highest solar efficiency at any cost, so that DC to AC ratio is closed to 1. For instance, solar trackers can be implemented. Making design decisions only on the basis of optimizing net system yield is rarely a good choice, however it can be a useful way of comparing system efficiency for two different sites.
2. LCOE optimization
The goal of LCOE optimization is to minimize cost per kWh. LCOE optimization tends to take DC/AC ratio higher than 1.0. An example of LCOE-focused approach can be narrowing inter-row distance between modules to have higher coverage ratio. It’s useful when comparing the cost of PV plants generation and others costs of generation. LCOE takes into account the total lifecycle costs of a plant, such as cost of capital, land, development, operation and maintenance, and divides it by the AC electricity generation produced over the life of that plan.
3. IRR optimization
Internal Rate of Return optimization maximizes the benefit of system design choices based on the support mechanism. It’s useful to compare two identical sites with different power purchase agreements.
Due to a vast number of scenarios of solar projects, it is practically impossible to solve without any tool. In this case, using a solar software can help where variables can be compared. Using EasySolar app, a solar system can be optimized through design, simulations and estimations that empowers investors, engineers and developers to select the most attractive project.