Best Practices at the End of Photovoltaic System Performance Period

Andy Walker, Taylor Curtis, Garvin Heath, Jal Desai, Edward Settle, Cesar Barbosa

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Responsible and cost-effective dissolution of photovoltaic (PV) system hardware at the end of the performance period has emerged as an important business and environmental consideration. Alternatives include extending the performance period and existing contracts for power purchase, lease, and utility interconnect; refurbishing the plant by correcting any deficiencies; repowering the plant with new PV modules and inverters; or decommissioning the plant and removing all the hardware from the site. Often key decisions are made very early in the project development and might require decommissioning by some certain date after the end of a power purchase agreement. To “abandon in place” is not an alternative acceptable to landowners and regulators, so any financial prospectus should include costs associated with decommissioning, even if those costs are deferred by extending operations, refurbishment, or repowering. Decommissioning costs are driven by regulations regarding the handling and disposal of waste, with reuse and recycling of PV modules and other components preferred as a way to reduce both costs and environmental impact. Each alternative is discussed with order-of-magnitude costs, and recommendations are provided considering site-specific details of that situation, such as estimated costs to refurbish or repower, projected revenue from continued operations, and tax considerations.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages32
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5C00-78678


  • decomissioning
  • end of PV performance period
  • hardware
  • performance period
  • photovoltaic system
  • PV
  • recycling
  • refurbishment
  • repowering


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