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A Viability Study of Photovoltaic Systems

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Project-Based Education in Energy Curriculum

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.122.1 - 22.122.20

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Paper Authors


Youakim Kalaani Georgia Southern University

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Youakim Kalaani earned his Doctor of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering from Cleveland State University with emphasis in power systems. He is a licensed professional engineer, an ABET evaluator, and a member of IEEE, IAJC, and ASEE organizations. He has research interest in electric power, renewable energy, and optimization. He is currently the director of the newly established Electrical Engineering program at Georgia Southern University.

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William Trotter Nichols

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William Nichols graduated from Georgia Southern University in May 2010 with a Master of Science in Applied Engineering. His graduate research focused on the design of both grid direct and off-grid photovoltaic systems and photovoltaic system monitoring.

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A Viability Study of Photovoltaic Systems  AbstractConcerns over climate change and other environmental problems highlight a need for a shift toclean and renewable energy. The main objective of this study is to investigate the viability ofphotovoltaic electricity in the southeastern region of the United States. To achieve this goal, twocase studies were conducted involving a large retail store and a recreation center. Historical datarelated to weather conditions, solar energy and power demand were investigated and as a resultgrid-connected photovoltaic systems were designed to provide green energy for these facilities.Several engineering factors that went into the design process as well as economic andenvironmental considerations were thoroughly discussed in this paper. The engineering analysisdeals with factors such as solar radiation, shade evaluations, array orientation, module stringsizing, and estimating energy production. Although a PV system does not emit any pollutionduring operation, manufacturing its various components involve a substantial amount of energy.Thus, the environmental study presented here takes into consideration the energy payback periodin addition to the pollution offsets of the PV system. The economic analysis utilizes capitalbudgeting techniques to determine the net present value and internal rate of return based onestimated cash flows over the expected lifetime of the PV system. Furthermore, the marketanalysis takes into consideration the various assumptions related to the cost and performance ofPV systems such as inverter lifespan, future inverter cost, and module degradation. Theseassumptions, along with the expected trend in the electricity price market, were incorporated intothe cash flow estimates.

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