Enhanced Analysis of Solar Utility at Penn State Using Trade Space Visualization

Open Access
Ivanov, Egor Sergeevich
Area of Honors:
Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Jeffrey Brownson, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Hosam Fathy, Honors Advisor
  • Penn State
  • Solar
  • Energy
  • ATSV
  • SAM
  • Trade Space Visualization
  • Economics
The primary purpose of this thesis is to examine the viability of developing a 2.5 MW solar energy conversion system to increase solar utility for Penn State and relevant stakeholders. The thesis also aims to demonstrate the value of trade space visualization in analyzing large data sets and the effects of several parameters on certain outputs. System Advisor Model (SAM) has been used to develop performance and financial models for diverse renewable energy systems, but is unable to effectively visualize large sets of parametric data. The Trade Space Visualizer (ATSV) developed by the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State, was used to more effectively analyze such data sets and develop accurate conclusions. The thesis first examines the effects of varied technological parameters associated with the solar modules, inverters, and batteries on the performance and economics of the system. Next, the effects of local electricity rates and energy policies on system economics are analyzed. Finally, grants and incentives are considered to view the effects that they have on the economic viability of the overall system. The results show that varying technological parameters such as modules, inverters, and batteries has little effect on the outputs of the system. The variance of these parameters alone is unable to generate a positive net present value and justify the development of the system. On the contrary, electricity prices and incentives have a major effect on the economic value of the system. If electricity prices in the State College area experience a significant spike, or Penn State receives rebates or incentives exceeding $0.13/kWh, Penn State can begin to generate a positive net present value on the system with a payback period of less than 10 years.