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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Solar energy technology demonstration starts in North Karelia

sirkkala-solar-energy-for-29-9-2016-blog

Choosing the most suitable PV or solar thermal system for you is not always easy.

Karelia UAS has invested in number of different solar PV and thermal technologies. Sirkkala Energy Park will house five different PV panel and inverter combinations, four solar thermal collector types and one PV-T hybrid panel system.

Various different PV technologies are commercially available and the most common and the most promising ones were acquired to Sirkkala Energy Park. Silicon polycrystalline and monocrystalline cells dominate the markets with nearly 90 % market share. Monocrystalline based PV-systems have lower production and investment costs compared to polycrystalline cells, but what they gain in investment costs will be lost in efficiency in most cases. Thin cell PV technologies will be demonstrated in the form of CIGS (Copper Inidium Gallium Selenide) and amorphous silicon. There are also various emerging technologies being researched, but most of them are not yet commercially available.

Various types of PV system architectures and technologies will be demonstrated, including single panel power optimisers, panels in series with maximum power point tracking (MPPT), panels with microinverters and mobile thin cell technologies. Total gross area of installed PV will be 80 m² and total peak power over 11 kW.

Solar thermal collectors are used to produce heat by absorbing sunlight. Two types of main technologies exists; evacuated tube collectors and flat panel collectors. Total of three types of flat panel collectors with different absorber material (copper, aluminium and stainless steel) and one type of evacuated tube collector will be demonstrated. Gross area of solar thermal collectors will be 32 m².

Hybrid PV/Thermal –panels are also demonstrated to assess the feasibility of this technology. Size of the hybrid panel array will be 8 m² with peak power of 1,1 kWp.

According to Project coordinator Mr. Markus Hirvonen, after installation of solar systems the Sirkkala Energy Park will be able to provide unique information on solar energy technologies and the characteristics of each different setup.

“The different solar energy setups provide new information on solar technologies in North Karelian environment and makes it easier for consumers and companies to make good solar PV and thermal investment decisions.

Within the GREBE –project context, Sirkkala Energy Park provides new insights into the market access paths of modern RE solutions, and their business opportunities and challenges.

Sirkkala Energy Park, located in Sirkkala campus of Karelia UAS in Joensuu, is a research, development and education facility of RE technologies. The energy system established in 2015 includes different solar and wood based i.e. a modern small-scale combined heat and power (CHP) -plant fueled with locally produced woodchips.