Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

2011 American Association for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition


Concerns over climate change and other environmental problems highlight a need for a shift toclean and renewable energy. The main objective of this study is to investigate the viability ofphotovoltaic electricity in the southeastern region of the United States. To achieve this goal, twocase studies were conducted involving a large retail store and a recreation center. Historical datarelated to weather conditions, solar energy and power demand were investigated and as a resultgrid-connected photovoltaic systems were designed to provide green energy for these facilities.Several engineering factors that went into the design process as well as economic andenvironmental considerations were thoroughly discussed in this paper. The engineering analysisdeals with factors such as solar radiation, shade evaluations, array orientation, module stringsizing, and estimating energy production. Although a PV system does not emit any pollutionduring operation, manufacturing its various components involve a substantial amount of energy.Thus, the environmental study presented here takes into consideration the energy payback periodin addition to the pollution offsets of the PV system. The economic analysis utilizes capitalbudgeting techniques to determine the net present value and internal rate of return based onestimated cash flows over the expected lifetime of the PV system. Furthermore, the marketanalysis takes into consideration the various assumptions related to the cost and performance ofPV systems such as inverter lifespan, future inverter cost, and module degradation. Theseassumptions, along with the expected trend in the electricity price market, were incorporated intothe cash flow estimates.


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