Customers and Products in Solar Power
The end-products are systems that generate electricity from solar radiation. The choice of technology will almost certainly depend on the size of the installation and the annual solar irradiance at the site.
For photovoltaics, nominal power ranges from 1W powering individual reading lights (~1W) to solar farms of up to 60MW (Olmedialla PV Park, Spain), with even bigger sizes in the pipeline. Larger installations will need tracking.
In contrast, concentrating PV and concentrated solar thermal plants are only viable in clear, sunny locations with an annual irradiance of above 2,000kWh/m². Due to their increased complexity, they are also not economically viable for small installations. Ssolar thermal power stations can be of utility size with ranges to 350MW.
|Photovoltaics/ Concentrating PV||Concentrated Solar Thermal|
|Pollution, Waste, Noise||No noise, no waste products and no pollution|
|Fuel Consumption||No fuel consumption||Only if used with fossil fuel backup capability|
|Operating Costs||Very low, as there are no fast-moving parts or fluids.||Low, depending on heat transfer fluid.|
|Annual variance in overall supply||The sun provides a stable traffic from year to year with variance ±4%.|
|Peak capacity characteristics||Generally, output follows the short-term fluctuations of the sunlight. However, that's still less volatile than wind fluctuations.||Better peak capacity characteristics if equipped with thermal storage tank. In addition, output has smoother short-term fluctuations due to thermal inertia in heat transfer fluid.|
Who buys solar power generators?
|Who?||Where are they? How many?||Motivation|
|House Owners||Millions of domesitc roofs and developers / architects of new buildings.||
|Councils||Many councils who own buildings with large roofs - schools, admin buildings etc.||
|Corporations||Many companies with large roofs||
|Land Owners / Project Developers||
|Electricity Companies||Big companies, often globally operating.||
Why would anyone not buy solar?
The barriers to use of solar electricity are mostly:
- High financing costs (upfront)
- Perceived to be too intermittent
- No brand name
|Photovoltaics||Concentrated Solar Thermal|
|Technical Risk||Generally low for crystalline PV, a bit higher for thin film technologies and concentrated photovoltaics||Generally high|
|Construction||Low risk||High risk|
|Operations & Maintenance||Low for fixed panels. Medium where tracking (i.e. moving parts) are used||High due to need for tracking|
|Environmental||May be an issue for some thin-film technologies.||Same as any combined cycle gas power plant|
|Financial||May be too small in scale for typical project finance transactions|
|Policital||Political support for solar may change unexpectedly|