Economic assessment of SHIP systems

The Solar Payback Calculator is a tool that has been developed to allow first assessments of the use of Solar Heat for Industrial Processes (SHIP) for different destinations in Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa, which are the four partner countries of the Solar Payback project. The English-speaking online Calculator is designed to give economic and financial pre-assessments for solar process heat systems. It works best with Google Chrome.

The tool gathers in two forms technical and economic parameters, defining both the solar system and the financial framework. During completion of the forms the user is provided with default technical / economic values (status: 2017). These values serve for an easy estimate or can be overwritten if more precise information is available. For further explanations please consult the tool manual.

The tool allows the user to compare levelized costs of heat of conventional energy sources with solar thermal systems delivering heat up to 200 °C. The advantage of the Calculator is that it includes several thousand solar yield simulation results with a solar fraction of 50 %, so that the user can run the economic pre-assessment without a technical simulation of the planned SHIP system in advance. The solar yield depends on the location, the process heat temperature, the collector type, the specific thermal storage volume and the load profiles of the factory – all input parameters that can be chosen by the user. Alternatively, the user is enabled to insert his own solar yield assumption.

The user then can choose the size of the collector field as well as the complexity of the installation. He can set assumptions on general inflation rates, annual energy price increases, debt and equity hurdles, tax rates as well as available subsidies.

The tool calculates the most important performance indicators, or KPIs, for the economic and financial feasibility assessment of planned SHIP plants:

  • Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Simple Solar Payback Period
  • Discounted Solar Payback Period
  • Project IRR (Internal Rate of Return)
  • Equity IRR

The results are shown in form of graphics and data tables. Because of data protection issues, there is no user registration offered and therefore results unfortunately cannot be saved or exported. The user can either do screen shots or use the link “Open Online Calculator in New Window to Print” which is provided on top of each page of the tool.

Please note: The Calculator is not supported by all (versions of) browsers. In this case, please fall back on Google Chrome.

The responsible editor of the Online Calculator is Fanny Huebner, Researcher at the German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. User can reach her via: fanny.huebner(at)