A substantial research and development effort is presently taking place on a worldwide basis to improve the viability of photovoltaic systems in terrestrial applications for direct conversion of sunlight to electricity. The utility-related applications of photovoltaic systems can be categorized as either centralized generation facilities or dispersed generation facilities. Technical, economic and other problems associated with utilizing photovoltaic systems in both application categories are discussed. The advantages and disadvantages of centralized versus dispersed generation are presented. The advantages and disadvantages of different photovoltaic devices for various applications are given. Factors which are expected to influence, either favorably or unfavorably, the future widespread deployment of photovoltaic systems in terrestrial applications are provided. The current program at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for assessing the potential future impacts of photovoltaic conversion is discussed.

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