How to Improve the ROI of Commercial PV Systems
As the pace of commissioning commercial PV systems accelerates, paralleling the maturation of current systems, the market sees PV systems as more than just a source of clean energy. Instead, photovoltaic systems are now viewed as long-term investments that need to be closely managed to improve their ROI and bottom line. As with any investment, the two main ways to improve the ROI of commercial PV systems are to increase energy production – and thus increase annual revenue – and to reduce lifecycle costs.
1. Performance ratio of commercial PV systems
A common method for evaluating the efficiency of commercial PV systems is the Performance Ratio (PR). PR measures the difference between the actual and estimated potential energy output of commercial PV systems. The measured value is the energy produced by the system as a percentage of the potential energy calculated by measuring irradiance and temperature. Operations and maintenance activities are performed to bring the actual output closer to the system's theoretical potential output. However, one of the first ways to increase energy production from a system is actually during the design and planning process. When analyzing the different PV options available, plant designers and asset owners should choose a system based on its ability to place more solar modules on the array, whether rooftop or ground mounted.
Many standard systems will reduce the number of modules that can be placed on the array due to design constraints, such as not allowing different module layouts or string lengths, or due to objects or natural obstructions that partially block sunlight. By choosing systems designed to overcome these hurdles and thus allow more modules to be included in the system, commercial PV systems become more profitable from the outset.
2. Minimize power loss in commercial PV systems
Another key way to improve the PR of commercial PV systems is to minimize the power loss caused by module mismatch, thereby increasing the system power generation. System owners and EPCs can implement mitigations to mitigate mismatch and aging losses, and to protect against unpredictable environmental changes, new obstructions such as antenna erection or growing trees, as well as contamination, uneven surfaces, irregular irradiance, and double Self-coloring under the face module. Technologies such as module-level power electronics (MLPE) help minimize energy losses affecting the modules rather than the entire string by optimizing the amount of DC power generated by each module.
However, no matter how much future losses can be reduced, even with high-quality modules, there may be defective modules that need to be replaced. Further cost reductions could be achieved if the technology used by commercial PV systems could allow replacement with any module available in the market without having to rely on expensive module inventories.