Advice Notes on Solar PV Technology Economics for the NPA Region

Solar PV

The Advice Notes aim to provide introductory material for entrepreneurs, startups and SME’s, considering to enter into the renewable energy sphere and based in the NPA regions partners to GREBE. The scope of the Advice Note covers regional, trade and industry, renewable energy (RE), technology information from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Finland. Different partner regions have different level of deployment of the various RE technologies covered by the Advice Notes. Thus, the level of information will vary depending on the level of deployment for each technology. For example, wind is not deployed on a large scale in North Karelia (Finland); however, it is widely deployed in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Full details are available on the GREBE website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/GREBE-Advice-Notes-SOLAR-PV.pdf

The focus of the Advice Notes is on regional information of some of the main economic characteristics sited as imperative, when making an informed choice, regarding which RE technology may be the optimal choice for a new business venture:

  • Costs and economics associated with the relevant technology
  • Support schemes available, relevant to the technology
  • Government allowance/exemptions, relevant to the technology
  • Funding available for capital costs of the relevant technology
  • List of the relevant to the technology suppliers/developers, with focus on local/regional, suppliers/developers and the products and services they offer.

As seen in the in the solar irradiation map below, the NPA Region’s average sum of solar irradiation is well below most parts of Europe. However, during the summer period, the countries based in the NPA region get around 17 to 19 hours of daylight and those in the Arctic Circle get 24 hours. Solar PV requires daylight (solar irradiation), rather than sunshine and high temperatures, which makes it a viable technology choice for businesses in the NPA region.Map

Financial incentive schemes and massive global deployment and development of solar PV panels has facilitated to address the relatively high capital costs of photovoltaics, by reducing the typical payback period and making it more financially viable investment. Solar PV technology uses solar cells, which are grouped together in panels, to produce electricity when exposed to sunlight. Solar PV is a highly modular technology that can be incorporated into buildings (roofs and facades) and infrastructure objects such as noise barriers, railways, and roads.

This makes PV an apt technology choice for use in urban and industrial areas. At the same time solar PV is appropriate for rural areas as well. This is particularly because solar PV delivers an economical and clean solution for the electrification of remote rural areas where the power from the grid is not available or very expensive. In most cases Solar PV systems may need to be accompanied by energy storage equipment or auxiliary power units, to supply electricity when the sun is not available.

Solar cells and modules come in many different forms that vary greatly in performance and degree of development. Solar PV is characterised by its versatility. Panels can be effectively employed at a very wide range of scales and in different locations and applications range from consumer products (mW) to small-scale systems for rural use (tens or hundreds of watts), to building integrated systems (kW) and large-scale power plants (mW/gW).2

The technology costs have dropped tremendously due to economies of scale in production and technological advances in manufacturing. A price decrease of 50% had been achieved in Europe from 2006 to 2011 and there is a potential to lower the generation cost by 50% by 2020. Furthermore, solar PV takes less time to plan and install, compared to other RE technologies.

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