Economic Consideration


After giving a survey on tracking market and introducing the base elements of economic analysis, several examples were studied in this chapter in order to evaluate the economic feasibility of dual tracking systems in comparison with horizontally installed fixed panels and with latitude tilted fixed panels. It was found that tracking is feasible in relation with these two cases at high latitudes and it questionable at sunny belt region. Anyway, the diffusion of photovoltaic systems is hindered until today by high investment costs. Trackers are more expensive because now you have moving parts. Instead of something that is just sitting on the ground you now have a motor that moves the panels. O&M costs will be higher, as well. The motor needs to be maintained throughout the life of the tracker. However, PV power generation is justified for special purposes. It is clearly demonstrated that, the small scale applications such as telecommunication systems, rural electrification, cathode protection and water lifting are economically feasible. Moreover, the comparison of the effectiveness of tracking in relation to monthly adjusted tilt of PV panels where the simplicity and high energy gain is not considered. This will be done in the near future.
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Electricity is the fuel that the world craves; the only question is where will it come from? Currently three main resources satiate most of the world’s electricity hunger: Coal (25%), natural gas (21%), and oil (34%) (IEA, 2006). These three source materials have two things in common; they are all burned to release the energy contained within and combustion releases pollutants. In recent years, there has been a big push towards renewable energy and energy efficient technologies like wind power, solar collectors, and LED lights. This last year the United States set aside $2.7 billion for communities to develop and complete projects designed to increase energy efficiency (USDOE, 2009).

Current renewable energy systems that are utilized in buildings include geothermal, wind, and solar energy systems. Although geothermal systems can reduce the consumption of energy, these systems do not generate energy, and thus, still require auxiliary power to operate. Additionally, geothermal energy systems can be difficult to integrate into existing buildings and can require significant amounts of space for a well field. Furthermore, these systems require routine maintenance due to moving parts and circulating fluid of the system.

Wind energy systems also have vast potential for local building energy generation, yet have some inherent disadvantages in comparison to other forms of renewable energy sources. Wind turbines and towers are large and require extensive capital and engineering to design and install. These systems have moving parts and are prone to regular maintenance requirements. In addition, many cities have regulations that restrict towers within city limits. Moreover, wind resources can be greatly minimized due to surrounding structures/ground cover to the site, which degrades their effectiveness in urban areas. Wind energy systems are most conducive to rural settings.

Solar energy is the most important renewable source of energy. It has the potential to be one of the key alternative clean and renewable sources to supply the increasing demand. In 2009, the world’s consumption of energy was 11,164.3 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe). Comparing this figure with the amount of received solar radiation during the same year, we find that the input solar radiation is 11,300 times greater than the world’s total primary energy consumption (Shepherd and Shepherd, 2014). Solar energy is clean and friendly to the environment, and it will not be affected by fluctuations in the market, such as oil. The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) report for 2014 shows a rapid growth in solar industry. Photovoltaic panels of 6201 MW have been installed plus 767 MW of concentrating solar power. This produces 20 Giga Watts (GW) of total installed capacity, which is enough to power four million houses in the USA. The report also shows that the industry has 175,000 workers, more than Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter combined*. Solar energy is now estimated for one-third of the USA new generating capacity in 2014, surpassing both wind energy and coal for the second year in a row (Resch, 2016; Solar Energy Industries Association, 2016).

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