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.
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: