Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

1. Photovoltaic Description

Photovoltaic systems first found application as electrical power sources for spacecraft in the 1950s. The high costs have been a longstanding barrier to full commercial adoption, but these costs began to drop sharply in the middle 1990s. With the onset of high electricity costs and a favorable environment for financial incentives, this technology is beginning to see widespread proliferation in both commercial and residential applications.

The economics of a typical photovoltaic installation are dependent upon a combination of tax credits, and subsidies from both utility sources and outside sources such as the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, or similar state organizations such as NYSERDA in New York State. SES has the expertise to prepare and secure these credits that can subsidize a portion of the capital costs of a project. The organization undertaking the project must make the initial up-front investment with incentives being reimbursed to the project investor at completion of the installation.

Photovoltaic projects can qualify for energy investment tax credits and energy production tax credits. Projects can also benefit from the sale of solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) in renewable energy credit markets. In these markets, solar producers can receive reimbursements from conventional electrical generators requiring so-called “green credits” as part of state and federally mandated renewable energy generation portfolio targets.

Energy generated from a photovoltaic source is most often suited to use within a facility (a ‘behind the fence” project) rather than for sale to external parties. Larger scale projects may benefit from external sales.

2. Photovoltaic Benefits

Photovoltaic projects can often provide excellent long-term returns that both reduce electricity costs directly, as well as provide a long-range hedge against future inflation.

3. Process/How to Buy

The development of such a project usually involves a qualification study, the costs of which can be partially reimbursed through public agencies.