Author(s)

Ulrich Schwabe

Date Approved

8-9-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. Engineering

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

College

Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering

First Advisor

Jansson, Peter

Subject(s)

Photovoltaic power systems;Engineering economy

Disciplines

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Abstract

With photovoltaic (PV) power systems becoming ever more prevalent in today's world, it is an inevitability that this renewable energy technology becomes more competitive from a price standpoint. Explored in this thesis are several engineering optimization and cost reduction methods that will enable large scale PV system costs to achieve grid parity in the next few years without requiring government subsidies or market support techniques. This research included actual data from numerous real world, large scale photovoltaic projects the author engineered in the northeastern United States and is informed by those design optimizations, best practice guidelines for proper photovoltaic system installation and parameter selection, as well as performance analyses of differing technologies. Incorporating historical data, a model is presented to help predict future photovoltaic system price-points and subsequently their associated electricity costs. Finally, an in-depth walk through of the engineering improvements required and their associated financial impacts requisite for the realization of grid parity for large scale photovoltaic systems in New Jersey brings clarity to an oft misrepresented and confounded topic.

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