I co-posted this over at theWatt.com.
Portugal is breaking ground on the worlds single largest photovoltaic (solar cell) electricity power plant. The plant, situated in Serpa, will cost €58 million to construct. It will have a peak power rating of 11 megawatts spread out over 60 hectares.
Portugal gets quite a lot of sun − not as much as Murcia or Sicily, but still a lot. According to RETScreen's database Evora (the closest inland location to Serpa in the database) gets 2.82 MWh/m2 per annum with the use of a two-axis tracking system. I did a quick calculation with RETScreen and came up with a 25.8 % capacity factor. That correlates to a annual power production of 25000 MWh. If amortized over 25 years, the facility will produce power for a rate of €0.093/kWh plus maintenance costs.
Paying 10 cents a kWh for a clean source of power seems like a good deal to me, and this is with global prices for photovoltaic modules drifting up to $5.50 / Wp.
As much as I like solar, I have to point out that you need to include the time value of $. An interest rate of only 6% would about double the cost per KWhr, to $.1825.
Even that's not bad for peak power, which costs (retail) at or above $.20 in lots of places.
Still, PV seems hard to justify for central utility generation, at least for the moment.
For something like a big nuclear plant I would certainly think interest is quite important. Photovoltaics on the other hand are highly incremental in their installed capacity. I don't know what the precise difference would work out between the "big plant" discrete case and the continious installation of PV modules... something to look into sometime.
I didn't deal with the degredation of the panels either, which would be approximately 20 % over 25 years.
I think that this is a good start
for the idea of a technology that
can be improved with an excellent
promising future. Because if we can
use the sun as a source of energy
for a cleaner and healthier invi-
ronment why not use it. and by the
way the entire earth will thank to
those innovative people.
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