Solar Power » Market

Customers and Products in Solar Power

Solar Products by Installation Size

Product Range

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.

Value Proposition

  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.
  • Reduce electricity costs
  • Contribute to carbon emission reduction
  • Take advantage of other incentives
  • Increase value of property
Councils Many councils who own buildings with large roofs - schools, admin buildings etc.
  • Reduce electricity costs
  • Comply with carbon emission targets
Corporations Many companies with large roofs
  • Reduce electricity costs
  • Display corporate social responsibility
  • Gain emission credits
Land Owners / Project Developers  
  • Sell electricity
  • Sell carbon emission allowances
Electricity Companies Big companies, often globally operating.
  • Spread energy mix
  • Comply with regulation
  • Would otherwise have to buy carbon emission credits (in the EU)
Consumer  
  • Use solar powered lights or charges instead of oil lamps (especially in developing countries or remote areas)
  • Use solar powered products for novelty value.

 

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

 

Risks


  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

 


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