AE 868
Commercial Solar Electric Systems

Final Project


Final Project Description

To wrap up the semester after we learned the ins and outs about solar PV systems design, let's consider the following three parts for this final project. Each part will touch on topics covered in the class that PV professionals will face on a daily basis. Success in this project will prove the capability of our solar designers to handle different types of responsibilities and to find solutions that best serve clients. At the same time, our designers can achieve the main goal of maximizing solar utility at a given locale.

The first part will ask our solar professionals to deal with a customer with an existing PV system and how to expand the capacity taking into account the existing requirement. The second part will handle a customer with a new construction property that requires a PV system. Finally, the third part will discuss two scenarios of the impact that the PV adoption has on the utility grid at both small and large scales.

Part 1

Imagine you own an EPC solar company and you are attending one of the international solar conferences where you are networking with solar professionals and clients. You come across Client A, a potential client who is interested in solar energy, so you start talking to him about your team and what type of systems and finance options you can offer. Client A seems very interested in saving money on his monthly electricity bill and being an environmentally friendly energy provider. So you hand him your business card and head back to your office. You still need one essential piece of information from Client A to generate estimated annual energy production and system cost, which is the 12-months energy bills for the property.

Assume the annual energy consumption is 15,000 kWh. It appears that Client A already owns a solar energy system on his house in State College, PA, but that he wants to expand it to cover all his electricity bills now that he has renovated to add new appliances and an indoor pool. The Current Solar System document is five years old, and he happened to have only the electrical construction documents on hand.

Prepare a report that discusses options to add more PV capacity to offset Client A's new electricity usage considering:

  1. PV system production degradation for the old system
  2. Interconnection requirements as far as point of connection 
  3. one-line showing all interconnection requirements. 

Design requirements

  1. The new total PV system production (old+new PV system) cannot exceed 10% over the total annual kWh consumption
  2. MDP can be upgraded/adjusted (if needed)
  3. a single point of interconnection at MDP is required. 

Part 2

Client B likes the quality of work your company delivered to Client A and she talks to you about the small shopping malls she owns in multiple cities. She specifically wants to test the new construction she is about to finish in State College, PA. She is only allowed to install PV on the flat roof of the mall. You happen to have offices in all multiple cities, so there are no logistical/technical challenges for you.

Assume there is no budget restriction and Client B will own the PV systems through her own financial sources. In addition, the predicted annual energy consumption will be about 33,000 kWh:

Prepare a report that includes:

  • The suitable solar PV system configuration and stringing
  • Use of tools taught in class to predict the optimal annual energy production, calculate system size, tilt angle, and azimuth
  • A bill of material (BOM)
 of main system components such as PV module, Inverter, and other BOS (if needed)

  • All datasheets (attached) for material used

Design Requirements:

  1. PV system production cannot exceed 10% over the total annual kWh consumption

  2. Total distance between PV array and MDP cannot exceed 100 ft.

  3. MDP to be sized according to the PV requirements for the maximum Amps rating

  4. Shading not to exceed 15%

Part 3

Assume you work for an electric utility company where your job is to analyze the effect of the additional distributed energy resources, such as PV systems, on the total load profile for one of the feeders on the grid. You are given the total kWh/day for two sectors on one feeder. The first is the total residential load profile and the second is the total commercial load profile. (Note: check the Final Project Load Profile spreadsheet.) You are given two scenarios. Scenario A considers allowing Low capacity PV penetration on the grid while Scenario B considers allowing High capacity PV penetration on the grid (the PV production profiles are given as a daily production profile in kWh/day).

Scenario A:

  1. Discuss the effect of the added PV on the total load profile. (Note: check Excel sheet named "PV Low penetration.")
  2. Discuss the effect of the shaded PV system on the total load profile. (Note: check Excel sheet named "PV Low penetration with shading.")

Scenario B:

Your PV system production is given as a daily production profile (Note: check Excel sheet named "PV High penetration.")

  1. Discuss the effect of the added PV on the total load profile. (Note: check Excel sheet named "PV High penetration.")
  2. Discuss the effect of the shaded PV on the total load profile. (Note: check Excel sheet named "PV High penetration with shading.")
  3. Discuss the effect of adding energy storage with PV on the total load profile. (Note: check Excel sheet named "PV High penetration with battery.")


  1. Assume that the base power is supplied from coal plants. There are two coal plants ready to be used, each with 700 kW power capacity.
  2. Assume all peak demands are met by natural gas plants, each with capacity of 500 kW.
  3. Total load profile is a sum of all loads on the feeder. 

Project Resources:


Each student is expected to deliver a 3 page report with all part including calculations, one-lines, and attached datasheets.

A breakdown of deliverables follows:

Part 1 ( one page limit)

  • A report showing all detailed calculations and the interconnection methods.
  • A one-line electrical diagram.

Part 2 ( one page limit)

  • A report showing all detailed calculations.

Part 3 ( one page limit)

  • A report showing discussions of both scenarios with the total load profiles after adding PV. Use charts to visually present your findings.

Formatting Requirements

  • The combined Report:
    • Three pages max - double-spaced, 12 point font in PDF format
    • Title the parts of the Report: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
    • PDF dimensions must be set to 8.5 x 11
  • The One-line Diagram (Part 1):
    • As mentioned above, the one-line diagram should be developed using any computer software (such as AutoCad or the symbols from the PPT file) and then attached as a PDF
    • The one-line diagram PDF file dimensions must be set to 11 x 17
    • Make sure to keep all text and symbols inside the page limits before you print the PDF version of the drawing
    • You may use appendices as needed and refer to them in the main document
  • Datasheets:
    • Part 1 and Part 2 call for datasheets. Datasheets are in addition to the three page max
  • Properly cite references using IEEE format
  • Title your Project "Final Project"
  • Please use the following naming convention: Last Name_First Name FinalProject.PDF

Submission Instructions

  • Submit your project to Lesson 12 - Final Project in Canvas.

Grading Rubric - Final Project

Below are the criteria on which your Final Project will be evaluated by the instructor.

Final Project Grading Rubric
Criteria (Standards) Total Points Possible (30)
Final Project
The final report should show original work towards achieving the design goal for all parts. Final report must illustrate all design details and calculations. Students must develop one-line diagram when needed to visualize the design. Students must pay special attention to the design requirements and consideration provided for each Part. Out of the 20 points for this category, Part 1 counts for 10 points, Part 2 counts for 5 points, and Part 3 counts for 5 points. 20
Follows all assigned formatting requirements. 5
Paper is well-written, edited, and properly cited. 5