PV Investor Guide – New business models for photovoltaics in international markets

Triggered by the remarkable decreases in photovoltaic (PV) components and system prices of the recent years, in more and more application segments and locations the available alternative sources for electricity were more expensive than the kWh generated by a PV system. Based on these framework conditions, new business models for the operation of PV systems in the different application segments such as residential homes, commercial and industrial uses as well as off-grid locations and others evolved.
A PV business model in this sense is an operating model of the PV system that integrates the stakeholder and market environment in a way that makes an economic viable operation of the PV system possible for the investor. Based on this definition, it is obvious that the complexity of PV projects is increasing compared to projects build in the feed-in tariff era. This however offers a unique opportunity for the PV sector to become independent from feed-in tariffs and evolve into a future where PV plays a major role in the electricity sector of a low carbon economy.
Despite this promising future, PV will remain very capital intensive, and investors will continue to be challenged by the increased complexity when implementing the business model for a PV project. In addition, due to its decentralized nature, which moves generation very close to consumption, PV can only fully leverage its strength in small to medium sized applications. This means that for a widespread application of PV, the investment of semi-professional investors is needed.

Development of a guide on international business models for PV with the aim to help investors cope with the increased complexity by providing them with best practices for the implementation of PV projects using various PV business models.
PV business models covered among others are: PV-hybrid Mini Grid for off-grid applications, PV self-consumption for commercial and industrial applications, Net-metering for residential and commercial applications, Leasing solutions for self-consumption and net-metering projects and Direct sale of PV electricity (PPA) for commercial and industrial applications. The guide provides economic feasibility calculations, including sensitivity analyses for different policy options. Furthermore, the guideline includes information on market potential, market structures, stakeholders and application segments.
In addition to this, the regulative framework needs to be further developed to support the implementation of the PV business models. The first step to achieve this was done by reaching a thorough understanding of PV business models; this guide was the basis for the development of an adequate regulative framework.