Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Reliable electrical power grids are frequently unavailable or inaccessible in remote locations, including developing nation communities, humanitarian relief camps, isolated construction sites, and military contingency bases. This often requires sites to rely on costly generators and continuous fuel supply. Renewable energy systems (RES) in the form of photovoltaic (PV) arrays and energy storage present a rapidly improving alternative to power these remote locations. Previous RES literature and PV optimization models focused on economics, reliability, and environmental concerns, neglecting the importance of logistics factors in remote installations. This paper proposes additional optimization variables applicable to remote PV systems and compares PV module technologies. Logistics requirements such as system weight and volume are vital for shipment to remote applications. Furthermore, PV module efficiency and area power density are important factors because available land area can be limited in constrained sites. These factors should be considered, in addition to conventional economic and performance variables, to optimize an RES for remote locations. The present study evaluates 29 PV modules utilizing manufacturer datasheets and supplier pricing. For each module, cost, efficiency, panel weight, and volume were collected to calculate the proposed logistics variables: area power density, weight power density, and volume power density. These variables were compared against module costs per watt, demonstrating cost-performance tradeoffs and enabling planners to select the best PV module for their application. Monocrystalline modules appear to provide the best balance of these factors, but developing technologies may challenge crystalline cells as they continue to mature. The best monocrystalline panels had efficiencies of approximately 20%, costs of $0.60/W, and power densities of 17 W/kg, 200 W/m2, and 5,500 W/m 3 . By comparing the logistics variables of PV modules as presented here, RES planners can develop more efficient designs better suited to the logistics of installing and operating at remote sites.


The authors declare this is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protections in the United States.

This research was funded by the US Air Force Civil Engineer Center and the Air National Guard Civil Engineering Technical Service Center

Source Publication

47th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC)