Consequences of Neglecting the Interannual Variability of the Solar Resource: A Case Study of Photovoltaic Power Among the Hawaiian Islands

Richard Bryce, Ignacio Losada Carreño, Andrew Kumler, Bri Mathias Hodge, Billy Roberts, Carlo Brancucci Martinez-Anido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus Citations

Abstract

The interannual variability of the solar irradiance and meteorological conditions are often ignored in favor of single-year data sets for modeling power generation and evaluating the economic value of photovoltaic (PV) power systems. Yet interannual variability significantly impacts the generation from one year to another of renewable power systems such as wind and PV. Consequently, the interannual variability of power generation corresponds to the interannual variability of capital returns on investment. The penetration of PV systems within the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ portfolio has rapidly accelerated in recent years and is expected to continue to increase given the state's energy objectives laid out by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. We use the National Solar Radiation Database (1998–2015) to characterize the interannual variability of the solar irradiance and meteorological conditions across the State of Hawaii. These data sets are passed to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's System Advisory Model (SAM) to calculate an 18-year PV power generation data set to characterize the variability of PV power generation. We calculate the interannual coefficient of variability (COV) for annual average global horizontal irradiance (GHI) on the order of 2% and COV for annual capacity factor on the order of 3% across the Hawaiian archipelago. Regarding the interannual variability of seasonal trends, we calculate the COV for monthly average GHI values on the order of 5% and COV for monthly capacity factor on the order of 10%. We model residential-scale and utility-scale PV systems and calculate the economic returns of each system via the payback period and the net present value. We demonstrate that studies based on single-year data sets for economic evaluations reach conclusions that deviate from the true values realized by accounting for interannual variability.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)61-75
Number of pages15
JournalSolar Energy
Volume167
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-71315

Keywords

  • Capacity factor
  • Economics
  • Interannual
  • Irradiance
  • Photovoltaics
  • Variability

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