Balance of Systems and Soft Costs

Balance of Systems and Soft Costs 2019-10-28T14:16:48+00:00

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that non-hardware costs, or “soft costs,” represent as much of 64% of the total installed cost of PV systems. Sandia conducts research to support reduction of these costs by addressing balance of system components; barriers related to interconnection, permitting, and codes and standards; and issues such as solar glare.

The PV Value tool gives appraisers and real estate professionals the ability to develop the market value of a PV system. The proof-of-concept version was developed jointly by Sandia and Energy Sense Finance.

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In this project we are trying to understand the drivers influencing individuals to purchase and install rooftop solar. This unique project blends data from surveys, online experiments and a large scale field experiment to develop a data-driven agent-based model of solar adoption dynamics.

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The Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT) is a web-based tool and methodology to evaluate potential glint/glare hazards associated with solar energy installations. The tool can also be used to optimize design configurations to maximize energy production while mitigating glare.

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The SNL PVROM database contains 800+ sites (mostly utility-scale) from 24 states, representing 9 NOAA climatological regions and 11 Köppen climate regions.

With the dramatic drop in hardware costs over the last decade, particularly for photovoltaic modules, the relative costs for Operations & Maintenance activities has increased significantly. The PV Operations & Management (PV O&M) project focuses on reducing these costs through development and subsequent application of methodologies to facilitate analysis and pattern identification of critical activities.

Currently, researchers are focused on understanding the impact of weather activities on PV systems, identification of common failures modes, and evaluation of associated cost impacts. The research team also engages in synergistic discussions focused on standardizing data terminology and database practices.

Analytical activities are informed by Sandia National Laboratories’ PV Reliability, Operations & Management (PVROM) database, which contains O&M records for over 800 sites, and captures five distinct O&M data collection practices across both distributed generation and utility-scale systems (see image above).

Methodological details are open-source, and project outcomes are shared at research and industry-oriented conferences. Representative publications include:

Distributions: A Tool for Characterizing Failures

Leveraging Data Science and Machine Learning to Characterize and Improve PV O&M

Reliability Impacts to PV Plant Performance: Methods and Tools for O&M Insight

Simulating PV System Performance with Component Reliability Distributions

PV System Reliability: An O&M Perspective

PV Reliability Operations Maintenance (PVROM) Database: Data Collection & Analysis Insights

Standardizing PV O&M Practices – A Reliability Perspective