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Money
Financial Return of Investment on solar energy

Realize the financial return on the investment. Most areas of the country have net metering which allows the customer to sell electricity back to the utility. In all cases, daylight consumption is reduced by production from your own source. Therefore, the rate of return is dependent on electric rates and rebates in your area.

Stabilize your costs. Currently, consumption of electric power by the U.S. is growing at 2% per year. Nuclear power represents 20% of our power production today, and will be reduced in the next two decades. Hydroelectric production (from dams) is no longer growing, and represents 10% of our production. With some limitations on coal plants, we are increasingly dependent on imported oil and natural gas. The future cost of electricity is unpredictable.

Produce your own power? The impact of even a small electric system is significant. Your system is sold on the basis of peak power. This is the power produced during bright sunlight (note that you will also obtain power during cloudy days). The power produced from your individual solar electric system is partly dependent on the weather pattern. A 1 kilowatt AC system will annually produce about 1300 kilowatt hours in upstate New York, and over 2000 kilowatt hours in many areas of the south and southwest.

Initial Capital Costs

Modular plants are attractive from an initial capital cost perspective. First, fewer capital

resources are tied up for a shorter period of time in the plant as it is under construction. This reduces the possibility that the firm building the plant will get into financial difficulty and may result in a lower rate of return required by investors. Second, modular plants have off-ramps so that stopping a project is not a total loss.

Investment Reversibility

Investment reversibility is the degree to which a completed investment is reversible. A reversible plant will have a high salvage value should the plant owner need to remove the plant for some reason (e.g., if the plant’s value becomes low in the particular application). Modular plants are likely to be more reversible than non-modular plants because they can be moved to areas of higher value or used in other applications.

EXAMPLES

Examples are used to illustrate how to apply the methods listed above; the more detailed

examples are as follows.

Municipal Utility Invests in Wind

This example compares a municipal utility’s decision to invest in a wind plant versus a natural gas plant. The wind investment results in a reduction in fuel price uncertainty, a reduction in environmental cost uncertainty, and enables the utility to respond to demand uncertainty using the wind plant’s modularity and short lead-time. The example demonstrates that the inclusion of these attributes can make the wind plant an economically attractive investment.

Utility Extends Grid Using PV

This example describes a utility’s use of customer-owned PV to expand its grid to non-grid-connected areas when there is uncertainty about whether there will be sufficient demand to justify an expansion. The modularity of PV enables the utility to change a loss situation with an immediate grid extension to a profitable opportunity.

Utility Delays GC Expansion Using Distributed PV

This example illustrates how a utility can respond to demand uncertainty on the GC system level using distributed PV generation. It demonstrates how the PV can be combined with a system upgrade to be economically attractive even when PV costs alone are excessive.

 

 

 

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