FACTORS AFFECTING LEVELIZED COST OF ENERGY(LCOE)

Prior to approving the Capex for solar power plants, clients are concerned about the number of units (kWh/year) their proposed solar plant would produce, and there is always doubt in the location-based estimates given to them. The fact of the matter is, the design of the solar power plants need to be optimized to the site environment, buying power and power needs of the user. Some of the technical parameters to be considered are:

1. Land terrain 2. Ground Coverage Ratio 3. Panel density 4. Tilt angles

Let’s take a look at some of the more important parameters for a solar power plant, based on maximum effect on LCOE.

Ground Coverage Ratio:

Most designers are well aware that GCR and tilt angle are related to each and there’s a tipping point where you decide on the most optimal tilt angle and GCR. 33% or 40% being a norm and 25% would be extreme. But, how much effect does decreasing the GCR have on LCOE?

Our experiences show that extra land cost is not much compared to the 1%-2% improvement in LCOE. So we recommend bringing down your GCR to 25%, the initial investment in land cost is worth it over the life time of the power plant.

Modifying the GCR inversely affects the shading and directly the tilt angle Range of Motion (ROM)

Panel density:

Increasing panel density is something you might want to think twice about in high wind speed conditions. When wind speeds reach upwards of 180 kph, the row of panels behave like an aeroplane wing. Reducing the gaps between panels is related to the metal mounting structure design and strength of the pipes used. It is therefore paramount, that in the case of solar trackers, the gaps in between panels be optimized for the best LCOE.

Panel density has by far the greatest effect on LCOE. By increasing the panel density, we can boost LCOE to a maximum of 3%.


An example of highly dense solar panel field site, in a low wind area.

Vaahan Renew Energy Pvt. Ltd. is a solar-tracker manufacturing and design firm, having undertaken commercial projects in single-axis, dual-axis and solar thermal sectors. Our engineering team is also available for solar project planning & projections.

In case of further inquiries, you may reach us at

sunnytracker@vaahanrenew.com

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