Title: An optimisation tool for designing, costing and economic analysis of off-grid photovoltaic power plants

Authors: Polycarp Ifeanyi Muoka; Md. Enamul Haque; Ameen Gargoom

Addresses: Institute of Applied Technology, Al-Hamidiya, Ajman, UAE ' Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia ' Faculty of Engineering, American University of the Middle East, Dasman, Kuwait

Abstract: The safety, durability, reliability and cost-effectiveness of an off-grid photovoltaic power plant depend on the quality of the design. Achieving a good design requires a robust and user-friendly design platform. Software tools exist to assist with these designs. However, they are proprietary and often suited mainly for research and development in academia. Moreover, such tools have steep and intimidating learning-curves for photovoltaic systems designers and installers. This paper presents a user-friendly MATLAB-based optimisation tool for designing, costing and economic analysis of such plants. It uses site-specific parameters for the sizing of system's components. The tool also enables the designer to undertake cost estimation and economic analysis to determine project's viability using these economic indicators: payback period, return on investment, net present value, life-cycle costing, annualised life-cycle costing, and the unit cost of electricity produced. The robustness of the tool is validated using case studies and the RETScreen4 software.

Keywords: balance of systems; BOS; battery bank sizing; charge controllers; economic analysis; inverter sizing; life cycle costing; LCC; off-grid power systems; photovoltaic power plants; optimisation; photovoltaic arrays; photovoltaic cost estimation; system load assessment; solar energy; solar power; power plant design; payback period; return on investment; ROI; net present value; NPV; unit cost.

DOI: 10.1504/IJRET.2016.10000845

International Journal of Renewable Energy Technology, 2016 Vol.7 No.4, pp.336 - 360

Accepted: 28 Feb 2016
Published online: 25 Oct 2016 *

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