EME 810
Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

6.1 Learning Outcomes


By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • convey the three key criteria within the goal of solar design and engineering;
  • list the three main engineering parameters of locale that will guide your design options;
  • describe the role of the power grid for decision making for photovoltaic strategies; and
  • use the economic constraints of the client to constrain your design options.

What is due for Lesson 6?

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Canvas Calendar for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignment below can be found within this lesson.

Lesson 6 Assignments
Required Reading:

J.R. Brownson, Solar Energy Conversion Systems (SECS), Chapter 16: Project Design

J.R. Brownson, Solar Energy Conversion Systems (SECS), Chapter 9: Solar Economics (selected sections)

J.R. Brownson, Solar Energy Conversion Systems (SECS), Chapter 6: Solar Geometry (A Comment on Optimal Tilt)

J.R. Brownson, Solar Energy Conversion Systems (SECS), Chapter 7: Applying the Angles to Shadows and Tracking (Tracking Systems)

S. Stoft (2002) Power System Economics, Designing Markets for Electricity, IEEE Press & WILEY-INTERSCIENCE, 2002 (pp. 30-48).

N. Pfund and B. Healey. (2011) What would Jefferson do? The historical role of federal subsidies in shaping America’s energy future. Technical report, DBL Investors. (PDF available on DBL Site)

Optional Reading (not required): Greentech Media Article: Solar Balance-of-System: To Track or Not to Track, Part I (Nov. 2012)

M. Lave and J. Kleissl. (2011) Optimum fixed orientations and benefits of tracking for capturing solar radiation in the continental United States. Renewable Energy, 36:1145–1152.

C. B. Christensen and G. M. Barker (2001) Effects of tilt and azimuth on annual incident solar radiation for United States locations. In: Proceedings of Solar Forum 2001: Solar Energy: The Power to Choose, April 21-25 2001

T. Huld, M. Šúri, T. Cebecauer, E. D. Dunlop (2008) Comparison of electricity yield from fixed and sun-tracking PV systems in Europe. European Commission, Joint Research CentreInstitute for Energy, Renewable Energies Unit, via E. Fermi 2749, TP 450, I-21027 Ispra (VA), Italy (poster, PDF).

DSIRE (NC Solar Center) Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
To Do:

Learning Activity: Pre-Design Charette Plan

Discussion 1: Communicating Information to Your Client

Discussion 2: Brainstorming Your Solar Proposal (due after Lesson 7)

Quiz: See Canvas (Module 6)

Engage in all Try-This and Self-check activities (not graded)


Geospatial assessment as utility maximization: supply side

  • engineering influence of shading
  • angle of incidence ($\theta$)
  • cosine projection effect
Electric power grid and metrics: demand side

Incentive assessment as utility maximization: demand side
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)
  • Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)


If you have any questions, please post them to the Lesson 6 General Questions and Comments Discussion Forum. I will check the forum regularly to respond. While you are in a discussion, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.