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SOLAR BASICS

CONTENTS

I. Introduction to Solar Technology

II. Terminology: Solar Terms and Energy Terms

III. Costs and Financing

IV. Basics of Federal, State, and Utility Policy

V. Solar Project Design Considerations


EXISTING SOLAR
TECHNOLOGIES

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Hot Concentrated Solar Power


Water
SOLAR TECHNOLOGY:
PV COMPONENTS
Cell

Panel / Module PV Array


SOLAR TECHNOLOGY:
PV SYSTEMS
Battery-less, grid-tied – grid connection, can be with or
without net metering
more than 90% of all installed PV in the US

Battery-based, grid-tied – batteries plus ability to


put power onto the grid

Off-grid – only tied to a battery bank

PV-direct – e.g. solar signs, street lights, solar calculator


SOLAR TECHNOLOGY:
MOUNTING
Solar PV systems can be ground mounted or roof mounted
SOLAR TERMS: SYSTEM COSTS
Hardware Costs
• Solar Panels
• Balance of System

Total
System
Soft Costs Cost
• Financing
• Permitting
• Customer Acquisition
• Installation
• Maintenance
SOLAR TERMS: SOFT
COSTS
SOLAR TERMS: SOLAR CELL,
MODULE, PANEL, ARRAY & SYSTEM
SOLAR TERMS:
BALANCE OF SYSTEM
The balance of system
or BOS encompasses all components of
a photovoltaic system other than
the photovoltaic panels.

• Wiring
• Disconnect Switches
• Mounting System
• Inverter
• Solar Generation
Meter
SOLAR PV TERMS: INVERTER,
METER, DISCONNECT
Inverter
Disconnect
Switch

Utility Grade
Solar Meter

These requirements may vary by utility. The outlay of these items can vary visually.
SOLAR TERMS: SYSTEM COSTS
Hardware Costs
• Solar Panels
• Balance of System

Total
System
Soft Costs Cost
• Financing
• Permitting
• Customer Acquisition
• Installation
• Maintenance
SOLAR TERMS:
INTERCONNECTION
• The technical and • Up until the 1970s
procedural requirements utilities owned all
necessary to connect PV
system to the electricity
generation and thus
grid. had total control over
the process of how
systems connected to
the grid.
ENERGY TERMS: BASE
LOAD AND PEAKING POWER
Electrical power demand
rises and falls during the
course of a typical day.

• Base load power - the


minimum amount of
electricity used on the grid.

• Peaking power - the


maximum amount of
electricity used both
anticipated and
unanticipated.
SOLAR TERMS: NET
METERING
Net metering
allows for the
delivery of excess
electricity
generated back to
the utility grid for
use elsewhere.
This offsets
electricity provided
by the utility to the
customer during
the billing period.
CONTENTS

I. Introduction to Solar Technology

II. Terminology: Solar Terms and Energy Terms

III. Costs and Financing

IV. Basics of Federal, State, and Utility Policy

V. Solar Project Design Considerations


THE COST OF SOLAR
PV
THE COST OF SOLAR
PV

25% drop in
price
2010 - 2012

Tracking the Sun VI: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the US from 1998-2012 (LBNL)
SOLAR MARKET:
TRENDS
Stage 1 Stage 2
Cost of Electricity

Solar Price
Retail Price
Grid Parity

Today Time
Source: Solar Electric Power Association
SOLAR MARKET:
CONSTANT PRICE
Stage 1 Stage 2
25 years at today’s price
Cost of Electricity

Solar Price
Retail Price
Grid Parity

Today Time
Source: Solar Electric Power Association
SOLAR MARKET:
TECHNOLOGY CURVE
Solar Technology is similar
to computer or cell phone
technology in that as there Increased
are higher adoption rates, Solar PV
prices decreases.

Hardware Soft Costs


Costs Decline Decline
POLICIES &
INCENTIVES

Investment Tax Qualified Clean Accelerated


Federal Credit Energy Bonds Depreciation

Tax Direct Cash


Tax Credits
Exemptions Incentive
State and
Net
Utility Metering
Renewable
CLEAN Contract Loan Programs
Energy
Credits
POLICIES &
INCENTIVES

Accelerated Qualified Energy


Investment Tax
Federal Credit Depreciation Conservation
Bonds

Tax Direct Cash


Tax Credits
Exemptions Incentive
State and
Net
Utility Metering
Renewable
CLEAN Contract Loan Programs
Energy
Credits
POLICIES &
INCENTIVES

Investment Tax Qualified Clean Accelerated


Federal Credit Energy Bonds Depreciation

Tax Direct Cash


Tax Credits
Exemptions Incentive
State and
Net
Utility Metering
Renewable
CLEAN Contract Loan Programs
Energy
Credits
TAX CREDITS

DC

Personal tax credit(s) only


Puerto Rico
24 states
Corporate tax credit(s) only offer tax
Personal + corporate tax credit(s) credits for
Notes: This map does not include corporate or personal tax deductions or renewables
exemptions; or tax incentives for geothermal heat pumps.
PROPERTY TAX
INCENTIVES

DC

38 States,
+Washington DC
& Puerto Rico,
State exemption or special assessment only offer property
Local governments authorized to offer exemption (no state exemption or assessment) tax incentives
for renewables.
State exemption or special assessment + local government option
SALES TAX INCENTIVES
FOR RENEWABLES

DC

28 states +
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
State exemption or deduction offer sales tax
incentives for
State exemption + local governments (option) authorized to
offer exemption or deduction renewables
RENEWABLE
PORTFOLIO STANDARD

Solar carve-out
RENEWABLE
PORTFOLIO STANDARD
• A requirement on retail electric suppliers to supply a
minimum percentage or amount of their retail load with
eligible sources of renewable energy.

• Typically backed with penalties of some form

• Often accompanied by a tradable renewable energy credit


(REC) program, to facilitate compliance, in the case of
solar in PA and NJ these are called SRECs.

• Never designed the same in any two states


RENEWABLE
PORTFOLIO STANDARD
RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO
STANDARD – MID-
ATLANTIC
CONTENTS

I. Introduction to Solar Technology

II. Terminology: Solar Terms and Energy Terms

III. Costs and Financing

IV. Basics of Federal, State, and Utility Policy

V. Solar Project Design Considerations


DESIGN: ORIENTATION

Average loss in N
energy produced

W 75% 75% E
100%

S
DESIGN: SHADING

10% shading of an array


can lead to a 50%
decline in efficiency

Source: Renewable Energy World


SOLAR PROJECT
DESIGN
Solar contractors prefer large square
roofs.

Solar panels usually need clear


space of up to 24sq/m.

Adequate space on the ground for a


ground or pole mount installation.

Is there space inside the home for a


string-inverter?
FIRST RESPONDER
CONSIDERATIONS
First responder training
should include:
• Assess the situation
• Visual identification
• Look for labeling
• Shut down the system
• Ensure circuit breaker is
• Marking & labeling so when firefighters
shut off
get there they know how to respond
• Setbacks so there is space to move about • Cover panels with opaque
the roof and vent material
• Electrical equipment in conduits and
inverter strategically placed to prevent • Verify conduits are still
firefighters from cutting live wires intact
SOLAR READY II
Solar Ready II is a part of the Department of
Energy’ s SunShot Initiative.

Solar Ready II aims to reduce the soft costs of


solar and streamline the permitting process.

The goal of Solar Ready II is to enable local


governments to replicate successful solar
practices to reduce soft costs and expand local
adoption of solar energy.
FOR MORE
INFORMATION
Liz Compitello Justin Dula
Research Analyst Manager
Energy and Climate Change Initiatives County & Regional Planning
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Delaware County Planning
Commission Department
ecompitello@dvrpc.org dulaj@co.delaware.pa.us
(215) 238-2897 (610) 891-5219

www.dvrpc.org/EnergyClimate/aeowg.htm

www.narc.org/solarready