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Content displaying: O&M

Utility-Scale PV

Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Costs

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

Base Year: O&M of $19/kWAC – yr is based on modeled pricing for a 100-MWDC, one-axis tracking systems quoted in Q1 2018 as reported by Feldman et al. (Forthcoming) adjusted from DC to AC. The values in the 2020 ATB are higher than those from the 2019 ATB because of the switch from using $/WDC to using $/WAC.

The wide range in reported prices in part depends on the range in maintenance practices for various systems. 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 Years: FOM for 2019 is also based on pricing reported by Feldman et al. From 2020 to 2050, FOM is based on the historical average ratio of O&M costs ($/kW-yr) to CAPEX costs ($/kW) of 1.2:100, as reported by Feldman et al (Forthcoming). This ratio is higher than the ratio of O&M costs to historically reported CAPEX costs of 0.8:100, which is derived from 2011–2018 historical data reported by Bolinger, Seel, and Robson (2018), as well as the ratio of O&M costs to CAPEX costs of 1.0:100, which is derived from IEA (2016) and Lazard (2018). Historically reported data suggest O&M and CAPEX cost reductions are correlated; from 2011 to 2018, fleetwide average O&M and CAPEX costs fell 43% and 64% respectively, as reported by Bolinger, Seel, and Robson (2018).


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

Bolinger, Mark, & Seel, Joachim. (2018). Utility-Scale Solar: An Empirical Trends in Project Technology, Cost, Performance, and PPA Pricing in the United States (2018 Edition). Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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.

IEA (2016). World Energy Outlook 2016. (No. WEO2016). International Energy Agency.

Lazard (2018). Lazard's Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis: Version 12.0. Lazard.

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