Solar resource-reserve classification and flow-based economic analysis

Jeffrey R.S. Brownson, Drew Gardner, Antonio Nieto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A framework is defined for the flow-based analysis of the solar resource by adapting established mineral economic methods, categorizing the joint degree of uncertainty for the solar resource and the degree of economic risk of project development. Solar energy is expressed as a raw energy commodity (an identified resource). Subsequent classification of the identified resource reflects the degrees of confidence in the meteorological data (measured, indicated, and inferred classes). The reserve base at the locale in question is then assessed for the economic viability for potential to be converted into a diversity of useful goods and services. Two example cases are examined for Andhra Pradesh, southern India. The solar resource-reserve system has been applied to a common product of electricity derived from photovoltaic (PV) technologies here, but the method is sufficiently broad to encompass economic utility derived from any conversion of a flow-based resource. This dynamic classification and analysis method establishes a foundation for communicating the confidence in project development from solar energy conversion, constrained not only by the confidence in the data describing the solar resource, but also in accordance with the technoeconomic feasibility for available conversion technologies, and the elasticity of demand for the solar commodity identified by investor/developers. The resource-reserve framework provides a foundation for solar resource economics; upon which individuals, firms, government agencies, and investors can make rationalized decisions on the allocation of the solar resource for high solar utility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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