Thin Film Solar Power – Balance of System Costs

This was the second of two projects I completed for my MBA at Cornell. Unlike the plasma paper this was a group project that I happened to lead. Our assignment was to do an international consulting project for a real company.

Thin Film Solar Power Plant BOS

I had contacts at the thin-film solar division at GE, and they had a need for some information. GE was new to PV manufacturing and had plans on building industrial scale PV systems. The PV group wanted to know about balance-of-system costs on large, multi-megawatt installations. BOS costs represent all the hardware and labor not including the PV panels and inverters, so we were looking at the racks, wiring, and installation techniques.

Germany was the world leader in constructing large PV systems, so we spent a week in Bavaria visiting sites and meeting developers. These were some of the largest PV projects in the world in 2008.

Our final paper proved to be a pretty good overview of all the components that go into these systems and some obvious do’s and don’ts for designers. The feedback I got from GE was that they used the document as a training manual for new staff, which I considered a success.