In line with the constraints of environmental problems and economic development, large-scale renewable-generation projects have been planned and constructed in recent years. In order to achieve sustainable power development and improve the power supply structure, China’s government has focused on distributed photovoltaic (PV) generation projects due to their advantages of clean emission and local consumption. However, their unstable output power still brings a series of problems concerning reliability, investment income, and available substitution proportion to traditional power, and so on. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the competitive development abilities of distributed PV generation projects and measure them effectively. First, through various investigation methods such as literature reviews, feasibility report analysis and expert interviews, the factors that influence the core abilities of distributed PV-generation projects were explored based on the micro-grid structure. Then, with the indexed exploration results, the factors were classified into 6 dimensions, i.e., investment and earning ability, production and operation ability, power-grid coordination ability, energy-conservation and emission-reduction ability, sustainable development ability, and society-serving ability. Meanwhile, an evaluation index system for core abilities of distributed PV-generation project was constructed using all quantitative indicators. Third, for examining the availability of the evaluation index system, combination weighting and techniques for order preference by similarity to an ideal solution (TOPSIS) methods were adopted to assess the practical distributed PV-generation projects. The case study results showed that installed capacity, local economy development, and grid-connected power quantity will influence the core abilities of distributed PV-generation project, obviously. The conclusions of the evaluation analysis on core abilities can provide useful references to operate and manage distributed PV-generation projects and promote their sustainable and health advantages. The proposed evaluation index system can also be used to assess power-generation projects in other types of energy, such as wind power and hydropower.
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