Large-scale Solar PV Investment Planning Studies
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In the pursuit of a cleaner and sustainable environment, solar photovoltaic (PV) power has been established as the fastest growing alternative energy source in the world. This extremely fast growth is brought about, mainly, by government policies and support mechanisms world-wide. Solar PV technology that was once limited to specialized applications and considered very expensive, with low efficiency, is becoming more efficient and affordable. Solar PV promises to be a major contributor of the future global energy mix due to its minimal running costs, zero emissions and steadily declining module and inverter costs. With the expanding practice of managing decentralized power systems around the world, the role of private investors is increasing. Thus, the perspective of all stakeholders in the power system, including private investors, has to be considered in the optimal planning of the grid. An abundance of literature is available to address the central planning authority’s perspective; however, optimal planning from an investor’s perspective is not widely available. Therefore, this thesis focuses on private investors’ perspective. An optimization model and techniques to facilitate a prospective investor to arrive at an optimal investment plan in large-scale solar PV generation projects are proposed and discussed in this thesis. The optimal set of decisions includes the location, sizing and time of investment that yields the highest profit. The mathematical model considers various relevant issues associated with PV projects such as location-specific solar radiation levels, detailed investment costs representation, and an approximate representation of the transmission system. A detailed case study considering the investment in large-scale solar PV projects in Ontario, Canada, is presented and discussed, demonstrating the practical application and usefulness of the proposed methodology and tools.