PV comparison to non-food crops literature review

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Hello all, my name is Ram Krishnan. I am currently pursuing my Masters of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech and my area of research is "Study of the effects of replacing non-food crops with PV farms: A boon or a bane to the farmers. ". As for the non-food crops I have chosen Cotton, Tobacco & Alcohol and will be analysing how replacing these crops with PV farms may or may not prove to be advantageous to the farmers.

Objective[edit | edit source]

Our main objective is to analyze and compare the revenue a farm land provides a farmer in the United States if he sets up a Photovoltaic plant on it, rather than growing cotton/tobacco or Alcohol.

The Literature review will be divided into two stages:

  • Agricultural data- In this section, all articles providing statistical information about Cotton, Tobacco & alcohol will be discussed and reviewed. The information we are interested in will be agricultural in nature: Yield ($/acre), Harvested acres, Value of the crop, Expenditures incurred etc.

This piece of information will help us plot various sensitivity graphs for these crops and compare them against PV graphs.

  • Photovoltaic Farms- In this sections, all articles pertaining to Solar PV farms will be analyzed and useful information from it will be summarized. The information we are interested in should be have both Technical & Financial content.

Non-food Crops Agriculture Statistics[edit | edit source]

Cotton Production Statistical Data in Georgia, USA[edit | edit source]

Cotton Production Statistics in Georgia, USA.[1]
Abstract : The link provides extensive details about the cotton production in the state of Georgia, USA published by the Georgia Cotton Commission. The data which is of much interest to us in this project would be:

  • Yield (average pounds per acre)
  • Crop Value (both lint & seed).
  • Total amount of acres planted
  • Total amount of acres harvested

These details would be very useful to us when we compare the remuneration provided by PV farms vs the efficiency cotton crop produces. We can choose a specific farm in of the counties mentioned on the link. We will calculate the amount of acres used by PV farms and the income it provides VS the amount of acres used by the crop and the $/acre it provides.

Cotton Production Statistical Data in Missouri USA[edit | edit source]

Cotton Production Statistics in Missouri, USA[2]
Abstract: The link provides an insight into the crop production & efficiency in the state of Missouri USA. This link can prove to be an excellent source as we can use the following data for our project:

  • Harvested Acres
  • Yield (pounds per acre)
  • Average annual price over the last 5 years.

Tobacco Production Statistical Data in North Carolina, USA[edit | edit source]

Tobacco Production Statistical Data in North Carolina, USA[3]
Abstract: We have chosen North Carolina because for the year 2013, it had the highest production of Tobacco. Tobacco has always been a very important contributor to North Carolina's economy. Once again the link provides abundant relevant data like :

  • Yield (Pounds per harvested acres)
  • Harvested Acres
  • Value of Production (Dollars/Acre).

We can choose the data used for Burley Tobacco crops as these crops are used to make cigarettes. The link also provides us data like the number of farms allocated to the various counties in the state. This will help us use GIS over a particular farm very easily.

Alcohol Production Statistical Data in Michigan, USA[edit | edit source]

Alcohol Production Statistical Data in Michigan, USA[4]
Abstract: The paper, published by the researchers of Michigan State University, gives a detailed description of the crop Barley in the state of Michigan, USA. Barley is primarily used in the production of Beer and is extensively grown in the Northern Part of North America. Though the paper goes into detail the way a Barley crop is planted, grown and harvested, we are primarily interested in the data provided about the

  • Michigan Barley production ranging from 1914-2013 in Bushels/acre
  • Economics: $ received per Bushel.
  • Break up of the expenses incurred by the farmer per acre during the process of growing Barley.
  • Average Yield for the year 2013

One very unique characteristic about the paper, which may prove to be very helpful for my topic is that the paper provides an in depth break up of the expenses incurred by the farmer per acre during the process of growing Barley. This data can prove useful when we compare it to the expenses incurred while installing PV systems.

Cotton Production in California[edit | edit source]

Cotton Production in California[5]
Abstract: California, being a large producer of Pima Cotton, is an ideal area of research as it has the largest % of PV farms too. Hence it would be easier to base our research around this region. The data provided in this article which is relevant to us is:

  • Production Area- with the help of various demographic & statistical figures, this section gives us information on the number of acres used for Harvesting purposes.
  • Yield-The section provided data about the pounds of Lint Cotton per acre.

Fertilizer use per acre- Data about the type of fertilizers used per acre is useful to us as it would be an important factor while plotting the sensitivity graph of cotton for the next 25 years.

Georgia Tobacco Farms[edit | edit source]

Georgia Tobacco Farms [6]
Abstract: This article provides agricultural information about the quantity of Tobacco produced in various counties of Georgia. Data which we can pull of this is:

  • Harvested Acres
  • Yield per Acre (in Pounds)
  • Production (in Pounds)
  • Revenue earned per 1000 acres

Barley in Colorado, USA[edit | edit source]

Barley in Colorado[7]
Abstract: The state of Colorado is well known for its large production of Barley. Since it also has a large % of PV farms, it would be useful to pull out the following information from the article:

  • Acres Harvested
  • Yield per acre
  • Production
  • Value per unit
  • Total Value
  • Prices received by farmers

Agriculture Projections to 2016[edit | edit source]

Agriculture Projections to 2016 [8]
Abstract: The article, published by the United States Department of Agriculture, studies how agriculture statistics like farm income, food prices etc will change in the upcoming years. The article covers the crops we are interested in primarily, and will be immensely useful to us in the following ways:

  • Information provided about Crop projections in the near future- The article describes how the growth in population, strengthening of US Dollars etc will cause an increase/decrease in the farm income for the farmers.
  • Projection of Cotton- A section of the article describes how the use of mills for upland cotton will fall due to increase in imports.
  • Projection of Tobacco- Declining cigarette consumption in the USA has this article predicting the decrease in the production of Tobacco in the near future.
  • Prediction in the decrease in the amount of acres of plantation- A nice graph shows how the Acres of Plantation of Barley and upland cotton gradually decreases from 1980-2015. This can help us plot a graph to compare against growth in PV demand.
  • Focus on upland cotton- A section of the paper concentrates on cotton, predicting how the domestic mill use and exports will increase/decrease by 2015. It also discusses increase in USA imports of apparels causing the decline in cotton mill use domestically. This would eventually earn the farmers less income.
  • Focus on Barley & Tobacco- A section of the article also describes how the domestic use and exports of tobacco and barley will increase or decrease with the help of a graph.
  • USA Barley, Tobacco & Cotton long term projections- Probably the most important section, this table discusses how the average yield, prices supply etc of all the mentioned crops will behave in the upcoming years. This data will be immensely useful when we do a sensitivity analysis.

Crop Production Data[edit | edit source]

Crop Production Data [9]
Abstract: Although we have many literature on this topic, this article is particularly useful to us because:

  • Cotton & Tobacco statistics in various states of USA- This article provides us all the statistical data (yield, harvest area etc) of cotton and tobacco in various states of USA. This gives us a wider range of survey.
  • Better tabulated results- This article has a very clear tabulated results of all the statistical data we require. It covers barley, cotton & tobacco and it has the most up-to-date data (2013-2014).

Economics of Tobacco[edit | edit source]

Economics of Tobacco [10]
Abstract: This article discusses in brief the economics of Tobacco crop in USA. The information that will be useful to us is:

  • Tobacco growing- This section discusses how the production & demand for tobacco in USA is on the decline as we look backwards from 1973 to 2003. This can help us predict the decline in the upcoming years. The section discusses how cigarettes are imported these days.

There are very informative graphs in this section that show how the production of tobacco is decreasing in USA as more number of cigarettes are being imported. These graphs will be useful to us when we plot graphs in our research.

  • State Data and Trends- A section of the literature also discusses on the state wise production, manufacturing and utilization of Tobacco. States like North Carolina, Georgia etc are being discussed. Since these states are already of interest to us, this section can provide us vital information. Referring the graphs, productive information about Tobacco manufacturing and farming have increased/decreased over the past few years.

Cotton production in Arizona[edit | edit source]

Cotton in Arizona [11]
Abstract: Cotton is a major crop grown in Arizona. The Pima variety of cotton is most famous in Arizona. Since Arizona also receives a high Irradiation value, and we have already discussed a PV farm in Tucson, Arizona; it will therefore be useful to discuss the growth of cotton in Arizona. The data which we can pull of the article is:

  • Area Harvested in Acres in 2012-2013
  • Yield in Pounds per acre
  • Production in Bales
  • Specific data about Pima Cotton: Area Harvested, yield & production

Sensitivity analysis of energy inputs for barley production in Hamedan Province of Iran[edit | edit source]

Sensitivity analysis of energy inputs for barley production in Hamedan Province of Iran [12]
Abstract: The main objective of this article was to analyse what components of Barley farming consume maximum energy. This approach will be beneficial to us as it will help us evaluate what are the major factors that cause expenses in Barley Farming due to which farmers can actually consider PV farming. The main points in this article which we can use is:

  • What are the different types of fertilisers used?- This article enlists the different types of fertilisers, biocides etc that are used for Barley farming. Instead of looking elsewhere, this article can provide some reference when evaluating the expenses incurred by the farmer while using these items.
  • Total Energy consumed - The section has a table that discusses the total amount of energy consumed by various components of Barley farming, like , energy consumed by Machines, fuel, fertilisers etc. This will help us get a good idea about the expenses incurred by the farmer.
  • Results from Sensitivity Analysis- After performing the sensitivity analysis, various conclusions were made which will be of great importance to us. The results discuss how increase in labor or biocides increase/decrease the yield etc. This data will be of good reference to us.

Though the data is relevant to the country of Iran, it does give us a good idea on how to go about doing a sensitivity and expense analysis in USA. Hence this article will be of good significance to us.

Barley in Wyoming[edit | edit source]

Barley in Wyoming [13]
Abstract: Wyoming is a major producer of Barley. As we are going to discuss PV farms in Wyoming, it will be useful to find out the statistics of Barley production in Wyoming. The information, as of 2011, that we can pull out is:

  • Number of Acres where Barley was planted
  • Harvested Acres of barley
  • Yield per harvested acre
  • Production in acres
  • Expenses incurred by farmer
  • Temperature Data

PV Farm Technical Specs[edit | edit source]

Objective - The main objective of this section of Lit Review is to assemble as much technical data on PV farms as possible. Technical data ideally should comprise of maximum information on the layout of the farm. Some of the information maybe:

  • Capacity of PV Solar farm
  • Type of Arrays and Orientation
  • Type of Modules used
  • Types of Racks used & their spacing
  • Output Efficiency
  • Revenue Earned
  • Cost of Setup of PV plant
  • Life Cycle of Photovoltaic systems over the next 25 years

During the course of the project, when we will be simulating a Solar PV setup, the above mentioned details will come handy. Since our primary objective is to show that the efficiency and revenue generated by a PV plant will be more/less than what a agricultural crop can generate, this approach may prove to be beneficial.

PV Setup in Georgia Power Headquarters, A Southern Company.[edit | edit source]

PV Setup in Georgia Power, a Southern Company[14]
Abstract: The state of Georgia, USA is actively trying to harness the potential of Solar Energy. Since we have chosen one of the non-food crops (cotton) to be in Georgia, it would be ideal to collect information about various types of PV setups in Georgia. One such PV setup has been established by Georgia Power's Corporate Headquarters in the year 2009. Their setup basically consists of rooftop PV arrays with the objective of producing electricity for the building. Their project, funded by Southern Company, can provide relevant details for our project as one of their objectives is to provide cost & performance data to help their customers. Through their interactive website that provides real-time web data we are interested in the following information:

  • Total capacity of the PV setup - The website describes the kW capacity expected from the setup. This information is useful for us as we can then infer how much kW of power can be produced with their kind of PV array setup.
  • Solar Production - The company publishes the amount of Solar Power they produce on a daily basis. Although this feature is currently not yet active and is "coming soon" , this feature can provide valuable data.
  • Weather - Probably one of the most valuable features the company provides, this feature gives us information about the amount of Irradiance (W/m^2), Module temperature, Ambient Temperature Wind Speed and Wind Direction. This information combined with the Solar Production data, can help us analyse the amount of Solar Energy produced under a certain set of conditions.
  • Comparisons- Although this feature is currently under construction, the data obtained from this can help us analyse the Energy data produced on a daily basis and compare it against the other data too.

Limitations faced-

  • Owing to the confidentiality of the project, it may prove difficult to obtain the exact technical specifications of the Arrays and the Inverters used. Obtaining other kinds of Technical Data may also prove to be difficult as the company may not be ready to divulge the information.

Solar Farm in Colorado[edit | edit source]

Multicriteria GIS modeling of wind and solar farms in Colorado[15]
Abstract: The basic objective of this paper was to analyze the suitable land area to tap solar (and in this case wind also) potential in Colorado, USA. The paper publishes its results based on using various Geographic Information System (GIS) modelling techniques to find out which land cover was most suitable for a Solar Farm.
Since our project involves simulation & design of Solar PV farms using the information provided by GIS, this paper can provide an useful insight on how to model a efficient PV farm based on information obtained from the GIS.

The following information from this paper is useful for us in our project

  • Methods to Obtain relevant data- The article describes what are the exact parameters required to design a solar farm. This is can prove to be helpful when designing & simulating our PV farm.
  • Land cover characteristics for solar- This section of the article proves to be an excellent source of valuable information as it defines what type of Land Cover has the maximum solar potential. For example, the article describes that the Inter mountain basins landscape have maximum Solar Potential. Hence while designing our PV farm, in order to maximize efficiency, we can keep these factors in mind.
  • Using GIS model to locate land masses with maximum Solar potential- A section of the article describes how to use the GIS model scores in identifying land masses which have a very high potential for tapping Solar Energy. We can refer to this method in our project.

Parallel DC-AC Conversion System Based on Separate Solar Farms with MPPT Control[edit | edit source]

Parallel DC-AC Conversion System Based on Separate Solar Farms with MPPT Control[16]
Abstract: This article focuses primarily on the simulation part of a PV farm, which can provide us useful information on how to go about building and simulating a PV plant with the help of MATLAB SIMULINK.

The information from this article that is relevant to us is:

  • Energy conversion Model- The paper describes the exact model employed by them to get the Current, Voltage and Power curves of each solar farm. This model, which primarily behaves like a distribution system too, can come in handy when we simulate our PV model.
  • PV panel model- The article also describes the type of PV panel used and the o/p capacity it possesses. They also briefly discuss the characteristics of the panel, like voltage & current parameters etc.
  • Inverter characteristics- MATLAB wave form outputs of the Inverter are also published to help analyze the AC output for the said given DC input. This can be useful in studying the efficiency of the system.
  • Formulae for calculating Photovoltaic Cell Current & Voltage- The paper employs a simple formula to calculate Ipv which is basically the current at the o/p of a Photovoltaic cell. This formula can be employed by us in our research.
  • MPPT algorithm- Through the results of the Simulation, it is explained how the Perturb & Observe MPPT Algorithm works.

Renewable energy potential on brownfield sites: A case study of Michigan[edit | edit source]

Renewable energy potential on brownfield sites: A case study of Michigan[17]
Abstract: The highlight of the journal paper is to show the potential a Brownfield land has in being replaced as a potential land for Solar Farms. Since this paper is a case study of Michigan and we had chosen one of the non-food crops to be in Michigan, this paper can provide us certain interesting & relevant details like:

  • Solar Potential map of Michigan- This map, prepared by the Michigan State University, shows the areas of great-low solar potential in Michigan. Hence, if we were to design a PV farm in Michigan replacing the non-food crop, this map can prove to be useful as it also displays the Irradiance value in W/m^2.
  • Solar Power production- The journal paper describes how much Solar Energy o/p is produced using standardized PV arrays. The amount of Irradiance received in Michigan was obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather data.
  • Tech Specs of PV array- "The PV module power ratings are for Standard Test Conditions (STC) of 1000 watts-per-square-meter solar irradiance and 25 °C PV module temperature. The default PV system size is 4 kW (kilowatt). This corresponds to a PV array area of approximately 35 square meters (377 square feet). As the standard array used by NREL requires a footprint of 0.15 acres to avoid shadow and other problems, the final potential estimated for solar is 1535 MW"

Statistical Modeling of Energy Production by Photovoltaic Farms[edit | edit source]

Statistical Modeling of Energy Production by Photovoltaic Farms [18]
Abstract: The paper basically deals with a statistical approach to model a PV farm in such a way that we are capable of predicting the energy output of each PV cell. The area of interest to us in this journal article is the way the paper uses an unique approach that relates weather conditions over an area of interest with the electricity production of the PV cells. Though the case study was based in Czech Republic, we can incorporate their methods while modelling our PV system.


Abstract: Although the main feature of the paper is to discuss how a Tailing Impoundments can be used as PV farms, which may not be of any interest to us, the paper does provide some very useful information to us like:

  • Configuration of the Solar Panels- The article provides the various types of semi-conductor materials that goes into making a PV cell along with the orientation & different types of PV arrays that maybe used. The configuration, as set up in Tucson Arizona, shows how the tilt of the arrays should be to avoid shading and to maximize Solar efficiency. It also discusses the capacity o/p that the setup can produce.
  • Expenditure of PV farms- This section provides us very valuable information: it discusses the expenses incurred by the aforementioned PV configuration. This information will help us draw a nice comparison sheet against the expenses incurred by a Non-food crop.
  • PV hardware description- Existing in this article is a very succinct table that describes the different types of PV modules along with the number of modules, their capacity, type of Inverter used and the O/P expected.

Solar Power Analysis & Design Specifications in Houston, USA.[edit | edit source]

Solar Power Analysis & Design Specifications in Houston, USA[20]
Abstract: The basic objective of this published document was to design & implement a Solar Farm on a landfill in the city of Houston, Texas. The information that would be relevant to us in our research is:

  • Type of Solar panels used- The article describes what type of solar panel they chose depending upon the electricity o/p that they required.
  • Configuration- The tilt of the solar arrays along with their dimensions is also mentioned. Spacing between the modules is also discussed to avoid the effect of Shading.
  • PV system design- Based on the expenses as well as keeping in mind the efficiency required, a detailed analysis and description of the exact design of the PV system is discussed. Issues like types of PV panels, tilt, tracking and wind loading are discussed in depth and necessary solutions have been published. This is very useful when we design and simulate our PV farm.
  • Specifications of the PV system equipments
  • Cost Estimate for the PV farm- Economic Analysis of the designed PV farm is done and the results are tabulated. This will be relevant to us when we tabulate such results against the data of non-food crops.

The Long Island Solar Farm[edit | edit source]

The Long Island Solar Farm[21]
Abstract: This journal article discusses the largest Solar Power Plant in Eastern United States (New York). Our main area of interest lies in these following topics of the article:

  • Technical Design- The paper describes in depth the capacity of the solar plant and accordingly the types of Solar modules used, their method of installation, Number of Modules & Inverters and module tilt and many other relevant details.

SunEdison Photovoltaic Solar Power Farm Davidson County, North Carolina[edit | edit source]

SunEdison Photovoltaic Solar Power Farm[22]
Abstract: Since we have reviewed an article discussing the growth of Tobacco crop in the state of North Carolina, it would be hence advantageous to study any existing solar farms in North Carolina. Though this article is very brief, it does provide the following information for us which can prove to be useful:

  • Output capacity- The PV setup is expected to deliver 16.1 MW (AC) to its customers.

Planning and Zoning for Solar in North Carolina[edit | edit source]

Planning and Zoning for Solar in North Carolina [23]
Abstract: The basic purpose of this article is to plan and evaluate the idea of establishing Solar Farms in the state of North Carolina. This article can come in handy to us when we plan to replace a tobacco farm with a PV farm in North Carolina. The information that can be useful to us is:

  • Description of a PV plant- The article describes very aptly a summarized version of all the equipments required for a PV plant. It describes the different kinds of PV arrays, panels and cells required and which one is more efficient than the other. It also takes into account the mounting, tracking concepts too.
  • Standards for solar- The paper also discusses the main factors that have to be kept in mind while establishing a PV setup, like: Height, Glare, Size etc. These factors will play an important role when we design our PV farm.
  • Zoning & Planning of Solar- The article discusses in brief as well as provides excellent weblinks which discuss how to decide which zones in North Carolina are best for Solar Farms and how to go about establishing these farms.

Solar Energy use in US agriculture[edit | edit source]

Solar Energy use in US agriculture [24]
Abstract: The main purpose of the article is to discuss the use of Solar energy by the farmers in USA. It discusses the various Energy policies & incentives available to the farmer in adopting this approach. The data available to the us in the article which can be useful to us is: Case studies- The paper discusses cases in USA where such a method was adopted. This section provides us information like system size, total cost of the system, maintenance charges etc. It discusses many case studies in different states of USA, hence giving us a wider range of study. It also provides us information on the number of arrays used, cost incurred.

  • Information on generation cost & Net Metering
  • PV Solar Radiation demographic distribution- The article has a figure that shows the states in the USA which receive maximum-minimum irradiation. It also describes the tilt angle of the arrays when placed in a certain hemisphere.
  • Applications of Solar Energy in Farms- The article discusses the areas where Solar Energy produced in a farmer would be useful. For example, the Solar Energy produced could help the farmer in heating water or refrigeration etc. This could be useful when we highlight the advantages of installing PV farms on Agricultural land.
  • Average Expenses for installing PV setup- The paper discusses in brief, the costs incurred to a farmer in setting up a PV farm. Depending upon the output capacity, average expenses are estimated.

Topaz Solar Farm, California[edit | edit source]

Topaz Solar Farm, California [25]
Abstract: California, a major source of Solar Energy, has many PV farms. Since we have reviewed the production of Pima & Lint Cotton in California, it would therefore be useful in studying the PV farms in this region. One such huge PV farm is the Topaz Solar Farm developed by First solar. The data important to us is:

  • Technology- The section discusses the type of Photovoltaic technology used.
  • Rated Capacity- in Mega Watts
  • Annual Production- in Gigwatts hour/ year
  • Expenditure incurred

PV System in Colorado[edit | edit source]

PV system in Colorado [26]
Abstract: Colorado has a significant percentage of PV farms and since we have discussed Barley Farms in this region, this article will be useful for us. After reviewing the Colorado State University Foothills Campus, Fort Collins, Colorado Section; the following information can be saved:

  • System Size: Output Capacity in Mega Watts
  • Area covered & Type of Array used
  • Type of Solar Arrays and modules used

Solar Photovoltaic Systems competing in the Energy Sector[edit | edit source]

Solar Photovoltaic Systems competing in the Energy Sector [27]
Abstract: In our project, since we are very interested in creating a sensitivity graph, wherein we will plot how the Cost incurred & revenue earned from a PV setup will increase/decrease over the next 20-25 years, this article can provide us with many supporting information. The main highlight is to predict how the costs of PV setups will drop in the upcoming years, thereby making Photovoltaic systems a major competitor in the field of Energy. The information relevant to us is :

  • Formula for Generation Cost- The article uses the LCOE formula to find out the actual cost incurred during the production of PV electricity. It takes into account the maintenance, installation investments as well as Net present value of the amount of energy produced.
  • How to find the cost of a PV system- The paper explains in detail how to go about finding out the expense of a PV setup. It also takes into account the expenses of all the equipments used in PV systems.
  • PV module price over the last 20 years- Although this article shows the mentioned information to be relevant in Europe, it can help us show how to go about plotting such a graph when we plot it for USA.
  • Prices of PV systems till year 2020- Once again, though the information is relevant in the Europe Market, it doesn't necessarily mean that it would not be relevant to USA. Also, it can show us a good approximation of the decrease in prices of PV systems.
  • Sensitivity Analysis- The article describes what are the factors that can cause the prices of PV systems to increase/decrease.

Limitation: The major limitation of this article is, though it provides loads of relevant information, it is relevant for European countries. Nevertheless, it can serve as a good guide when we make a sensitivity analysis of PV systems.

Technology Roadmap for Solar[edit | edit source]

Technology Roadmap for Solar[28]
Abstract: This piece of literature is very relevant to us as it discusses a lot of relevant information about PV plants in USA like:

  • $/Mwh of Solar Energy in California from 2010-2013- This can help us understand how the $/Mwh has increased over the past few years, and will help us predict how it may increase in the upcoming years.
  • Potential for Cost Reductions- This section reveals information on how the prices of Solar Modules fell in 2008 & 2012. It has a very informative graph which shows how the PV module cost per Wattage of Power generated will decrease from 1976-2035. The curve has not been made on mere assumptions, but observations and calculations.
  • Cells and modules- The article also describes how the efficiency modules will increase by 2020.

Photovoltaic Pricing trends[edit | edit source]

PV Pricing Trends [29]
Abstract: As the title suggests, the article discusses the way the PV systems are priced currently (2011-2013) and how they are predicted to vary in the upcoming years. The following information will be useful for us when we plot our sensitivity graphs:

  • Installed PV Module price in $/Watt from 1998-2011- This section has a very clear graph that shows how the cost of PV modules decreased from 1998 to 2011 as the capacity of the plant increased.
  • A Focused study on California- The literature has a focused case study on the state of California where it compares the average price of PV modules per Watt in the year 2011-2012. Since we are already analyzing a PV farm in California, this piece of information will be useful.
  • State wise summary of Average Module price per Watt- States like Texas, Arizona California etc are mentioned which is important to us.
  • Price of Module + Inverter + BOS in $/Watt- Here BOS relates to the expenses incurred for installation, maintenance, labor etc.

A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity[edit | edit source]

A Review of Solar Photovoltaic Levelized Cost of Electricity [30]
Abstract: Since there is lot of misinterpretations on how the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) concept works, this article publishes a clear methodology on how to go about using the concept of LCOE on a PV setup. The main features of the article are:

  • The exact formula used for calculating LCOE
  • Pointing out the way LCOE concept is misinterpreted in today's market
  • System Life of Solar PV Plant
  • Explaining the concept with a real life case study

Advantages: The main benefits of this article is that, the information is explained with lots of graphs, figures and tabulated results. Hence, referring this article primarily while making a sensitivity analysis of PV will be very useful.

Solar PV plant in Philippines, USA[edit | edit source]

Solar PV plant in Philippines, USA [31]
Abstract: This literature review provides us very useful information about the Photovoltaic plant established in Philippines, USA. All the previous PV plants we have discussed have huge capacity (in Megawatts). Hence it would be useful to discuss certain projects with only a kW capacity output.

  • Number of Panels
  • Orientation of the arrays and tilt angle
  • Annual Insolation Data in kWh/m^2 per day
  • Lessons Learned- This section discusses all the methods that can be adopted by this PV plant to increase their efficiency.

Buying a PV system[edit | edit source]

Buying a PV system [32]
Abstract: The main purpose of this handbook is to provide a guidance to consumers when purchasing a PV system. This article is useful to us because it provides us the following information:

  • How much electricity will a PV system produce?- This section discusses the amount of electricity that a certain PV setup can produce. We can refer this section when we simulate a PV system.
  • Cost & Expenses of PV system- This section refers to the costs incurred while establishing a PV system. But at the same time it discusses the incentives provided by the California Government which helps in reducing the prices. It also discusses what a PV user monthly pays for his/her setup.

Monthly Cost Savings Table

A guide to installing PV systems in California[edit | edit source]

A guide to installing PV systems in California [33]
Abstract: This guide helps customers to install PV setups from a small scale lever (roof-tops) to large scale setups. This article is important to us because it provides the following data:

  • Sun angle & orientation in California- This section provides us data relevant to California. Hence if we are to design a PV setup in California, it would be useful to use this data.
  • Annual Energy expected from PV at STC in California- This data is given city wise in California.
  • Labor costs and incentives
  • Estimating Electricity Savings
  • System installation procedure- This section provides in detail the connections of the inverters and batteries to the PV arrays. This will be useful when we simulate a PV model.

Photovoltaic Systems for Farms[edit | edit source]

PV systems for Farms [34]
Abstract: Since our project revolves around setting up a PV arrangement in a farm, this article proves to be relevant. In summary the article has the following information which would be useful to us:

  • Where can the PV output power be used in a farm?- This section of the article answers the question to where the PV energy can be utilized by the farmer in his/her farm. Various applications like pumping water, electric fence etc have been specified.
  • System Specifications for each application- The article also describes what kind of a PV system is required for each application. Technical Specifications like rated power, operating voltage, cost of installation as well as maintenance is discussed.
  • Working with the sun- This part of the article provides a very fundamental but useful information answering questions like " AC or DC electricity, Principle of Tracking, What are PV modules and how to choose them etc.

Although we find only these 3 points to be relevant from this article, this article has discussed many applications where the PV energy can be put to use in a plant in depth. Hence this article can be a good source of reference for our project.

Economics of a Solar Photovoltaic System[edit | edit source]

Economics of a Solar PV system [35]
Abstract: A major component of our project will involve the calculation of how much does a PV system cost to a farmer. Hence it is vital we review many literature articles based around this concept. This article provides us the information like:

  • Solar System Examples- A section of the article discusses many case studies. It takes into account various PV examples, like 10kw Array 100 kW array etc. Based on a few assumptions it then calculates it calculates the expenses and the payback that a consumer can get with and without incentives. The article also discusses in how many years the consumer will get his/her payback value. This will help us draw a useful comparison against non-food crops.

It also has an internal link which discusses how to calculate net present value and internal rate of return which are useful while discussing the economics of a PV plant.

Cost Analysis of Solar PV systems[edit | edit source]

Cost Analysis of PV systems [36]
Abstract: The main objective of the report is to provide simple and clear guidelines that can help us calculate the cost and efficiency of PV systems. The data from the report that we are interested in are:

  • Typical cost & performance of PV systems- A short yet very informative table provides us information about the cost of PV modules in $/Watt as of 2010. In addition to the Installation cost, it also provides info about the Efficiency as well as the Levelised cost of electricity in USD/kWh. Since the data provided is relatively recent (year 2010), it will be easy for us to predict the costs and performance over the upcoming years.
  • An overview & comparison of major PV technologies- This table draws a comparison amongst various PV technologies available in the market today. The data which we can extract from this table is the efficiency of the PV modules, Current PV module cost, PV module size, area required per kW output etc. Since it covers a wide range of PV modules, it will be a good source of reference.
  • Cost and performance of PV modules- The section of the article discusses in detail the way the average price of a PV module is depreciating. The data is supported with many informative graphs and mathematical numbers which can prove to be a good pool of information to us. The nice feature about this article is that, it covers the cost of Inverters, tracking components, site preparation, installation and many other electrical components. It also discusses the cost of large scale PV systems in USA. The good feature about the report is, it provides numerous graphs to support its fact. These graphs will be useful to us in our project.
  • Cost Reduction potential for PV modules- This section of the report deals with predicting and understanding how the prices of various PV modules will drop from 2011-2015. By analyzing the rate of depreciation, we can also predict the decline rate from 2015 onwards. It provides a very good summarized report of how the Overall PV system costs will drop (both residential & commercial).

PV systems in Arizona[edit | edit source]

PV systems in Arizona [37]
Abstract: This journal paper provides the complete field analysis data of the PV systems installed on 80 rooftops in Tucson, Arizona. The paper provides technical data in depth addressing areas like

  • Module manufacturer and area of the PV system
  • System Orientation- The article discusses the tilt angle of the PV systems as required in the state of Arizona. It discusses the most common tilt angle and orientation employed by most of the PV installations. This data will be useful to us when we build our PV modules using Software Packages like PVsyst.
  • System Location, Size, Age and module type.- This section of the article mentions the characteristics of the System and the type of module it uses. It also has informative graphs showing Annual Financial yield.

Discussing the economics of Solar Electricity[edit | edit source]

Economics of Solar Power [38]
Abstract: This is one more literature which provides us information about the economics of Solar Electricity. The article discusses the Technology improvised by PV systems and at the same time discuss the changes in the cost of the PV systems. This data will be useful to us. Employing the LCOE technique, short run costs are discussed. At the same time, a table is provided which tabulates the different types of PV modules along with their life span, cost/Wattage Power, Efficiency as well as the short term costs by the LCOE and various other methods. The advantage of this article is that it also discusses the configurations of the PV modules in various places in USA like Boston, California, Arizona and New Jersey. It discusses the Panel Orientation, Cost per Wattage Power, % increase in economic value and various other data which would be immensely useful to us. One more positive point about this article with respect to our project is that it discusses the Installation cost in $/Watt and predicts its behaviour till 2050. This prediction would act to be a very good source of reference when we plot our graphs.

Solar Electricity vs Regular Electricity[edit | edit source]

[ http://solarcellcentral.com/cost_page.html#solar_cost Solar Electricity Facts ] [39]
Abstract: One aspect of our project will also deal with understanding what sort of revenue the generated Solar Electricity will fetch the farmer. Hence it would be a good idea to study what is the value of Electricity generated by PV cells these days and also compare it with the normal cost of regular electricity. This link gives us the exact information we are looking for, though briefly:

  • Regular Cost of Electricity as of 2011- A section of the website provides useful information about the present cost of regular electricity in USA. It categories the types of electricity consumption too: Residential, Commercial & Industrial and specifies its consumption rate in cents/kWh. States like New York, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington etc are also discussed as examples.
  • Prices of Solar Electricity- Here the prices of Solar Photovoltaics (crystalline silicon cells) are discussed in $/Watt (DC) till the year 2013. Average prices of Rooftop installations, Large commercial as well as Utility scale rates are mentioned.
  • 'Depreciation Rate of PV cells- By using the LCOE method and with the help of graphical figures, the rate of decline in the cost of PV cells are discussed. It is also compared against Coal, Natural gas, Nuclear etc. which proves to be a good point of reference.
  • Prices of PV modules till 2015- By stating various reasons, the website has predicted the drop in PV cells from 6$/Watt to 1$/Watt since 1990 till 2015. By using the same reasons discussed by the website and by doing some analysis, we can also predict the drop in PV module prices in the near future.
  • Typical cost of PV rooftop setups in the south-west regions of USA- By taking the Phoenix Metro area, the website discusses the various cost factors going into installing a rooftop PV system. Factors like System size, cost of modules, initial cost to customer, incentives provided to customer, break even factor etc. are being discussed here.

Break Even prices for Solar Energy[edit | edit source]

Break even prices for Solar Energy [40]
Abstract: The main objective of this article is to evaluate the break even price for a Solar PV residential customer in USA. The article defines Break even price as "cost of PV-generated electricity equals the cost of electricity purchased from the grid." It is important for us to understand, when it comes to our project, when will the PV setup break even for the farmer so that we can analyse whether it will be beneficial to him/her as opposed to growing the non-food crops. The major areas of interest for us from this article are:

  • Break Even costs- As of year 2008-2009, the article discusses how the Net present cost of a PV system will equal the Net present benefit realised to the owner. In short, this section shows in detail how a break even cost is calculated. It defines what Net Present Cost is, which includes Discount Factor, Loan Payment etc. It also discusses what Net present benefit means to a customer.
  • Future market sensitivities of break even costs- A section of the article also has a table where the break even costs considering various base cases like base payment, federal taxes, incentives etc are tabulated and finally the break even cost in $/watt for many states of USA as of 2009 is clearly represented graphically.
  • incentives given by the government used in this case study- The USA government provides lots of incentives when it comes to PV setups. This article has a very nice State and Local Incentives table as of 2009 which provides information like Tax Incentives etc. Since its important to us to keep in mind the incentive factor offered by the government, this article would be very useful to us.

Solar Power Prospects[edit | edit source]

Solar Power Prospects [41]
Abstract: Since our whole aim of our research revolves around one question "What is the remuneration earned by the farm from PV farms against non-food crop farms?", it would be important to us to gather as much information as possible regarding the various cost and break even factors of Solar PV systems. The major points of interest from this article are:

  • Solar Power Must Be Profitable in Order to Compete - An immensely useful point of reference, this section discusses how and why solar pv setups are not very competitive in the current market, but at the same time they also discuss by how much the solar cell prices must drop to become competitive. This information would be very useful to us, as if the farmer is in a area with average sunlight and high electricity rates, this section will help us significantly in plotting the Sensitivity Analysis.
  • Solar Power grid parity- Grid parity basically refers to that concept where a Renewable Source of Energy can produce electricity that can be purchased at a price lesser than or equal to the cost of purchasing electricity from a grid. This section discusses various projections by the year 2020 when the cost of Solar Electricity purchased will increase and discusses how places like Hawaii have already reached parity.
  • Hypothetical Solar Power Plant Revenue for Select Cities- By taking many regions of USA, this section tabulates the Average State price ($/kWh).
  • Annual Revenue Net of Capital Costs for a Solar Power Plant in Various Cities- This section mentions the installed capital cost as well as the Annual Financing cost (loans from banks and various other sources). Though we may not get into loans and interest rates in our project, this table however gives detailed information about various financial aspects of PV systems in many states of USA.
  • Capital Cost per Kilowatt- This table compares the $/kW of coal, natural gas, wind and Solar PV. The way the comparison is made, can provide us guidance on how to draw such a comparison with PV farms against non-food crop farms.

Photovoltaics Watt Calculator[edit | edit source]

PW calculator [42]
Abstract: This online calculator, developed by the NREL, "Estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers and manufacturers to easily develop estimates of the performance of potential PV installations." Probably one of the most important sources of reference, this website goes a long way in helping us in the following way:

  • Obtaining the weather data- Just by entering a city in USA, this website fetches all the data pertaining to weather in that area.
  • Existing system information- The website displays a Google Map which displays ALL the PV systems in that area. Just by clicking one particular setup, information about the PV system like System Size, Module type, Array Type, System loss, Tilt (degrees) and many other advanced parameters are discussed. It ALSO discusses the economics of the system like the cost of electricity in that particular area, Initial cost, Incentives offered by the State Government and the Tax Credit.
  • Results- By taking the Solar Irradiation data, Energy produced & energy value the calculator calculates annual revenue earned.

Probably one of the most literatures that we can refer, this link has tremendous benefits. It easily locates all the PV systems in various regions of USA and has all the parameters enlisted for calculating the revenue earned by the farmer. This website will be a major source of reference for us in our project

Economic analysis of Solar PV systems: Achieving grid parity[edit | edit source]

Economic analysis of Solar PV systems: Achieving grid parity [43]
Abstract: It will be beneficial to us to read as many literature on Grid parity of Solar as possible. This article, published by an author of Stanford, once again provides very insightful information about how the PV systems achieve grid parity in the near future:

  • How to calculate $/kWh- This section discusses how to use the LCOE algorithm, which has been discussed in detail before, in calculating the amount of $ spent per kWh of Energy. Sample calculations are also displayed which help us get a better understanding. During the process of calculations, many factors like capital cost, size of system, life cycle etc are discussed which is important for our research.
  • The ultimate goal: Grid Parity- By taking an example of Los Angeles, California USA a graph has been made which show how many factors like Solar LCOE, peak electricity cost , electricity retail price etc may increase or decrease in the upcoming years. This graph gives us a better understanding of how to achieve grid parity.
  • Total cost of PV systems- A bar graph breaks up the various components of PV systems, and for each component the cost of installation is mentioned.
  • What we need to do to achieve parity- This section takes a look at all the methods that should be looked at to achieve grid parity. At a certain stage of our project, if we find that a PV system is proving to be a bane to the farmer, we can have a look at the methods mentioned in order for the PV systems to become beneficial to the farmer. This section discusses % growth sensitivity, how far should PV systems grow etc which can help us during our sensitivity analysis.

Analytical model for solar PV and CSP electricity costs: Present LCOE values and their future evolution[edit | edit source]

Analytical model for solar PV and CSP electricity costs: Present LCOE values and their future evolution [44]
Abstract: This paper presents a mathematical model for calculating LCOE of PV systems CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) electricity. The paper also talks about future evolution & sensitivity analysis which is a critical part of our project. The major point of interest to us are:

  • Present status of PV systems- This section discusses the cost of PV systems in $/kWh against Installed Capacity (MW) with the help of various graphs. It discusses average annual growth which can be useful to us when it comes to doing a Sensitivity Analysis. The much discussed LCOE algorithm is also defined and the Net Present Value (NPV) is explained. All the factors that need to be considered like Land cost, Annual costs, Performance factors, solar resources etc are discussed with the help of graphs and figures. Based on this a Sensitivity Analysis is done till the year 2050.

The advantage of this Literature is that, the data is supported with many graphs and Sensitivity Analysis is done till the year 2050, which would also be ideally our objective.

  • Grid parity- The concept of Grid parity is also discussed here. The paper finds that due to the reducing costs of PV systems will cause Grid parity to be reached by the year 2050. The way they concluded this, understanding and analysing this will be of use to our project.


Abstract: This article describes a 50kW Solar PV setup in Wyoming. This IEEE paper is full of detail and information that we can use:

  • Design & Construction of the PV setup
  • System Configuration
  • Features of the system - number of modules, number of strings, module current etc.
  • Evaluation of System performance

Sensitivity Analysis of very large scale PV systems[edit | edit source]

Sensitivity Analysis of very large scale PV systems[46]
Abstract: This paper gives a step by step procedure on how to do a sensitivity analysis of PV systems. The paper performs 5 different types of sensitivity analysis which allows us to get a better understanding of how its done. The 5 sensitivity analysis that were done were:

  • Sensitivity analysis of PV module efficiency
  • Sensitivity analysis of PV module degradation
  • Sensitivity analysis of interest period and depreciation period
  • Sensitivity analysis of labor cost
  • Sensitivity analysis of Cables used

Although the analysis was done for a different country where the prices may vary, this article gives us a very good understanding on how the sensitivity analysis needs to be done.

Solar Potential Assessment using PVsyst[edit | edit source]

Solar Potential Assessment using PVsyst [47]
Abstract: Our project will involve simulation: where we will be building an Online model of PV system. PVsyst, a famous online simulation tool for PV systems, will be one of our important simulation software packages. This paper gives us a good idea as to how to use PVsyst software to calculate and assess PV systems.

The article defines the various parameters (like tilt angle, azimuth etc.) that will go into the simulation of PV systems. Various factors like Nominal Power, Load profile, Module Type and technology used is also discussed and analysed. A detailed Performance Analysis is also done with the help of Inverter and PV data.

The advantage of this article is that it also discusses losses and Incident energy which will be useful to us when doing our simulation.

Solar Trends in USA[edit | edit source]

Solar Trends [48]
Abstract: At this stage it would be a good idea to get information about the number of Solar cells or installations that have been done in USA over the last few years. This would help us understand how the PV systems demand is growing which would eventually cause a decrease in their prices. This website provides us all the information we need:

  • Annual PV installations (MW)- With the help of a graph, the PV installations (residential, commercial and utility) in MegaWatts from 2000-2013 is displayed. The graph shows how the MW installations have increased over the couple of years and at the same time, the prices have dropped too.
  • PV installations state-wise- The section of the website shows which states in USA have had the maximum PV installations over the past couple of years. This would help us choose a region of study. For example, since Georgia has a large number of PV installations as mentioned in this section, we can choose this as our case study in our project.
  • Market Segment Trends- This section shows how the demand for solar equipments in the market have gone up considerably from 2000-2013. It shows the growth rate in the market when it comes to PV installations.
  • System Prices- A detailed analysis is made as how the prices of PV modules have dropped significantly over the couple of years. Prices of components are discussed too.

Land Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States[edit | edit source]

Acres/MW and Packing factor [49]
Abstract: This document covers an important topic: What is required from the land where the PV systems are going to be installed? The important data that is to be pulled of from this document is:

  • Summary of Land use requirements- This table provides a very good summary of the acres of land required per MW of production and generation of PV electricity. It categorizes PV setups too as Small & Large PV setups.
  • Total Land use by PV tracking type- This table provides land requirements (acres/MW) (acres/gWh/yr) for a PV setup with tracking properties.
  • Evaluation PV packing factors- The way the Solar Arrays are packed close to each other in order to maximize efficiency is basically termed as Packing Factor. In case of our project, it is important to see whether many PV modules can be squeezed into the farm and hence this term is important. The section of the website what is the packing factor of this PV setup.
  • Land Use state-wise- Finally the acres of land used for MW of power production in states like California, Arizona which we have discussed before will be useful to us.

Solar Markets[edit | edit source]

Solar markets [50]
Abstract: This Literature gives data about the number of Solar modules sold from 2011-2013. Though it provides information about other countries too, it covers USA to a detailed extent. Topics like number of Solar Cells, PV growth, drop in prices etc are covered. This data will help us during the Sensitivity Analysis stage of our project.

References[edit | edit source]

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