Model of Operation-and-Maintenance Costs for Photovoltaic Systems

Andy Walker, Eric Lockhart, Jal Desai, Kristen Ardani, Geoff Klise, Olga Lavrova, Tom Tansy, Jessie Deot, Bob Fox, Anil Pochiraju

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This article presents a method for calculating costs associated with operation and maintenance (O&M) of photovoltaic (PV) systems. It compiles details regarding the cost and frequency of multiple O&M services to estimate annual O&M costs ($/year) for each year of an analysis period, the net present value ($) of life cycle costs accumulated over the analysis period, and the reserve account amount ($). Here we show that this method is an improvement over the previous averaged or levelized per-unit ($/kW/year) valuations for estimating PV O&M costs, because it allows a detailed selection of services to perform based on system size, market served (e.g., residential, commercial, or utility), type and configuration of system components (e.g., micro-, string or central inverter) and site and environmental conditions (e.g., snow, pollen, bird populations). This model also distinguishes costs that vary from year to year and increase at different rates over time because of heuristic failure distributions (e.g. Weibull or Lognormal distribution) based on actuarial data for many of the services. This cost model was created by the PV O&M Working Group of researchers and industry, sponsored by DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office, and has been published in an on-line version hosted by SunSpec Alliance at A spreadsheet version is included with this paper as supplementary material.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5C00-74840


  • failure distribution
  • life-cycle cost
  • operations and maintenance cost estimate
  • photovoltaics
  • PV
  • reserve account


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