Planning, Procuring and Managing Solar PV Systems for Long-term Performance: Planning for the End of PV System Performance Period  

Education Type: 
1 Hour
0.2 CEU
Sponsored by: 

DOE Federal Energy Management Program - FEMP

Over 3,000 photovoltaic (PV) systems have been installed at Federal facilities, and these systems are expected to last 25+ years. But at the end of that performance period Federal agencies are faced with expiring contracts and interconnection agreements, high O&M costs, degraded performance, and/or severe weather damage that requires the agency to make informed decisions. Several alternative options include:

  1. Extending the performance period and existing contracts for power purchase, lease, and utility interconnection;
  2. Refurbishing the system by correcting any deficiencies;
  3. Repowering the system with new PV modules and inverters; or
  4. Decommissioning the system and removing all the hardware from the site.

Some of these decisions are pre-decided earlier in project development and contracting, such as requiring decommissioning by some certain date after the end of a power purchase agreement (PPA). To "abandon in place" is not an acceptable option and is inconsistent with local regulations, so agencies should plan for some expense associated with decommissioning, even if those costs are deferred into the future by extending operations, refurbishment, or repowering. Alternative financing mechanisms (e.g., ESPC ESA) will also be discussed. Decommissioning costs are driven by waste disposal cost with reuse and recycling of PV modules and other components preferred as a way to reduce both costs and environmental impact. This webinar presents information to consider early in project development and equipment specifications; to consider in system operations to extend useful life; to consider after severe weather events that generate waste; and to consider when repowering or decommissioning a system. Life cycle cost comparison of alternatives is presented including decisions that are driven by tax considerations of private partners (PPA providers).

This training is part of a sequential series. The recommended order of completion is:


Andy Walker, Principal Engineer, NREL  

Andy Walker is a principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where he conducts engineering and economic analysis of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for federal agencies and commercial and industrial clients. Since 2009, he has been focusing on performance issues and helping system owners evaluate and optimize system performance. He is currently managing a U.S. Department of Energy SunShot program on photovoltaic (PV) operations and maintenance (O&M), producing a best practices guide and PV O&M cost model. He holds a patent on the Renewable Energy Optimization (REO) method of planning renewable energy projects across a portfolio of properties based on economic value, which was awarded the Thomas A. Edison patent award for innovation and impact. He has taught energy classes at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado School of Mines, and at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and led the Solar Energy Division and is the author of more than 28 book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers including 'Solar Energy: Technologies and Project Delivery for Buildings,' a reference book published by John Wiley. Andy's credentials include a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and he is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado.

Jal Desai, Research, NREL  

Jal provides techno-economic analysis in the Strategies & Implementation Group in the Integrated Application Center. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in December 2016 and joined NREL in January 2017. Jal's research Interests include renewable energy deployment and technologies, energy policies, assessment and modeling. Jal earned a M.S. in Energy Science Technology and Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA and B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Nirma University, Ahmedabad, India. Jal is specializing in topical research into PV O&M issues.

Gerald Robinson, Program Manager, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory  

As a program manager and principal investigator at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Energy Technology Area (LBNL-ETA), Gerald largely works to address procurement barriers related to the adaption of resilient energy technologies. Related to this effort, Gerald is part of a team of researchers investigating solar photovoltaic (PV) hardware resiliency and severe weather topics. Gerald supports the U.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) resilient energy programs that provide procurement and technical assistance to federal agencies. As part of his role in supporting FEMP, Gerald leads teams developing resilient energy programs and procurements designed to simultaneously reduce utility costs to the taxpayer while increasing the reliability of power supplies feeding federal facilities. Gerald also works on a FEMP team working to develop solar PV operations best practices for federal agencies and produced a solar PV operations and maintenance solicitation template and a guide to spotting and repairing existing vulnerabilities. Gerald has been working in commercial and institutional energy management since 1992.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this training, attendees will be able to:

  • Recognize the decisions made in new-project specifications and contracts that affect end-of-life decisions;
  • Identify how to plan and budget for actions at end of performance period;
  • Explain how to include both cost and environmental impacts and constraints in decision making; and
  • Explore how to manage financial and regulatory risk at end of performance period.
Federal Agencies and Facility Criteria: