As the world clamor for green and renewable energy, researchers seek for ways to make such energy production systems more affordable, more efficient and hence, more economically viable for diverse applications 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Among the numerous clean and renewable energy systems, photovoltaic (PV) systems have been found to be the fasted growing and most widely adopted option 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Particularly, in the developing countries of Africa with adequate solar radiation in most part of the countries, PV power plants becomes the system of choice for powering remote sites that are far away from the grid 12, 13. Most often, recreational facilities at sea shores (beaches) in such developing countries like Nigeria are powered by off grid power systems.
Again, in such case, PV systems becomes the most viable option given the fact that lower ambient temperature at the sea shore and high wind speed are particularly suitable for high PV power harvesting 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.According studies, PV power plants’ performance depends on numerous parameters that amount to many loss mechanisms 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. In view of the site dependent PV power system loss, in this paper, the focus is to determine the solar energy potential of five different beaches across Nigeria. This gives insight into the economic viability of such power systems among the different beach sites in Nigeria.
First, the comparison is based on the actual average yearly energy yield for PV installation in each of the five beaches studied. In addition to the average yearly energy yield, some site-specific PV module performance meters such as performance ratio (PR) and specific energy yield (SEY) are considered in the comparative analysis of the solar energy potential of the different offshore sites studied in the paper.The performance ratio, often called “Quality Factor”, is the ratio of the electricity generated to the electricity that would have been generated if the plant consistently converted sunlight to electricity at the level expected from the DC nameplate rating 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. PR is, again, a function of both the PV system efficiency and the weather. PR is independent of the irradiation and installation size and therefore it is a useful metric for comparing PV systems and sites. It takes into account all pre-conversion losses, inverter losses, thermal losses and conduction losses. PR metric helps designers to understand which locations will provide the most productive PV plants.
For example, a colder site will provide a higher PR, implying more electricity generation if everything else is equal 29, 31.Specific energy yield (SEY) refers to how much energy (in kWh) is produced for every kWp of module capacity over the course of a typical or actual year 7, 32, 33, 34, 35. SEY relates the installed capacity of PV systems to the amount of PV generated electricity 36. It is a practical way to calculate the amount of generated electricity based on the installed capacity.
SEY is dependent on the irradiation but independent of installation size. SEY can be used to give an indication of the efficiency and feasibility of a PV system , to compare PV energy potential of different locations, to analyze different PV system designs as well as to assess the health of an array 37 . Finally, based on the presented performance parameters, namely; actual average yearly energy yield , performance ratio and specific energy yield the five different beach sites will be ranked according to their ability to support efficient production of solar energy to the end users.