Balance of Systems and Soft Costs

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.

With the dramatic drop in hardware costs over the last decade, the relative costs for Operations & Maintenance activities (O&M) has increased significantly. Using a data-driven approach, our team develops methodologies for evaluating field failures using maintenance logs and production data for different assets. Supporting activities include development of open-source code for processing and analyzing data, including unstructured text and failure distribution parameters for cost model simulations.

Thushara Gunda




Learn more at the PV O&M: Common Failure Modes, Cost Impacts, and Data Analysis page.

Sandia will participate in a SEEDS2 project to study residential solar panel adoption in rural Virginia (PI: Dr. Achla Marathe at the University of Virginia). Sandia also will support the development of an agent-based model of solar panel adoption that leverages previous work on adoption models for San Diego County.

Kiran Lakkaraju, Principal Investigator
Phone: 505-844-4032

Project Partner:
University of Virginia


Swapna Thorve, Zhihao Hu, Kiran Lakkaraju, Joshua Letchford, Anil Vullikanti, Achla Marathe, and Samarth Swarup. 2020. “An Active Learning Method for the Comparison of Agent-based Models.” In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems (AAMAS ’20). International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, Richland, SC, 1377–1385.

The Orange Button (OB) Initiative is an industry collaborative to establish an open, commercially-focused solar data exchange system (comprised of a uniform taxonomy, information models, APIs, and compliance test software suite) to enable a free flow of data between software products that address the solar asset lifecycle. In this project, we extended the OB 1.0 taxonomy (released April 2018) to add system performance monitoring and modeling elements to address the requirements of construction and operations use cases. We also developed an OpenAPI-compliant means to use the taxonomy.

Clifford Hansen, Principal Investigator
Phone: 505-284-1643

Project Partner:
SunSpec Alliance

Orange Button website:
Orange Button taxonomy and utility source:
OpenAPI composer for Orange Button: