Volume 1: Proceedings of Applied Energy Symposium: MIT A+B, United States, 2019

A comparative analysis of economic and environmental tradeoffs of roof-mounted solar plants for manufacturing locations in the U.S. Amir T. Namin, Sagar Kamarthi, Matthew J. Eckelman, Jacqueline A. Isaacs


Manufacturing is responsible for approximately one-third of primary energy use and 37% of carbon dioxide emissions globally. As the interest in renewable energy is growing, this study considers the economic feasibility and environmental implications of installing onsite roofmounted solar PV systems on a case study manufacturing facility in five U.S. states (California, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, and Texas), which have varying levels of solar irradiance, different incentives, solar policies, and manufacturing incentives at both the federal and state level. In these five cases, a combination of high efficiency SunPower solar panels (monocrystalline) with sun tracking technology are considered. The objective of this research is to compare the impact of state incentives and regulatory policies, as well as physical and locational differences, on the economic and environmental performance of high efficiency monocrystalline solar PV panels used for powering manufacturing processes. Using NREL’s System Adviser Model (SAM), common financial metrics such as the economic payback period, Net Present Value (NPV) and Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) are investigated considering the federal and local incentive policies for the selected states. Energy Payback Time (EPBT) and Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) as common environmental performance metrics for life cycle of PVs are compared for different cases. The results indicate, lower LCOE and positive NPV can be achieved under certain conditions with the economic payback time ranging from 3 to 15 years. EPBT is less than two years for the five selected states with the CO2 equivalent abatement cost ranging from $0.5 – $151 per ton.

Keywords Sustainable manufacturing, Renewable solar energy, Economic feasibility, Environmental benefits, Policy analysis

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