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Content displaying: O&M

Commercial PV

Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Costs

Definition: Operation and maintenance (O&M) costs represent the annual expenditures required to operate and maintain a solar PV plant over its lifetime, including items noted in the table above.

Base Year: The initial figure on this page shows the Base Year estimate and future year projections for fixed O&M (FOM) costs. Three technology innovation scenarios are represented. The estimate for a given year represents annual average FOM costs expected over the technical lifetime of a new plant that reaches commercial operation in that year.

FOM of $18/kWDC – yr is based on modeled pricing for a commercial PV system quoted in 2018 as reported by Feldman et al. (Forthcoming). A wide range in reported prices exists in the market, which in part depend on the maintenance practices that exist for a particular system. These cost categories include asset management (including compliance and reporting for incentive payments), different insurance products, site security, cleaning, vegetation removal, and component failure. Not all these practices are performed for each system; additionally, some factors depend on the quality of the parts and construction. NREL analysts estimate O&M costs can range from $0 to $40/kWDC – yr.

Future Year: FOM for 2019 is also based on pricing reported by Feldman et al. (Forthcoming), adjusted for inflation. From 2020 to 2050, FOM is based on the historical average ratio of O&M costs ($/kW-yr) to CAPEX costs ($/kW), 0.7:100, as reported by Feldman et al. (Forthcoming). Historically reported data suggest O&M and CAPEX cost reductions are correlated; from 2010 to 2019, benchmark commercial PV O&M and CAPEX costs fell 62% and 68% respectively, as reported by Feldman et al. (Forthcoming).

Use the following table to view the components of O&M.


The following references are specific to this page; for all references in this ATB, see References.

Feldman, David, Vignesh Ramasamy, Ran Fu, Ashwin Ramdas, Jal Desai, and Robert Margolis. (Forthcoming). U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System and Energy Storage Cost Benchmark: Q1 2020. Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.