This analysis uses actual installed system costs from available data to better assess and understand the real installed and life cycle costs for small-scale photovoltaic (PV) installations. Most PV systems are sold on the basis of first cost, but in addition to these first costs, system owners must consider operation and maintenance (O&M) costs and down time, as well as energy savings [1]. The challenge in developing realistic life cycle costs is that most databases have only new data available, and only one database — that maintained by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) — contains performance information along with cost and maintenance data. The goals of this effort are to: 1. Characterize the actual life cycle costs (LCC) of PV systems installed in Florida and tracked since 1998. 2. Develop a benchmark of PV LCC that will aid in prioritizing cost improvement steps and feed into the U.S. Department of Energy and its subcontractors’ efforts to develop a baseline for grid-connected small residential and larger commercial PV system costs. 3. Develop an easy to use and modify LCC model that allows sensitivity analysis and input of new data as it becomes available. The PV system LCC model developed and used here is based on statistical methods, which provide us with a range of expected outcomes. The Monte Carlo technique allows the use of repeated simulation iterations to mimic a population sample. For inputs, the model relies largely on data from FSEC’s performance and maintenance databases, and where appropriate simplifying assumptions are explained. Beyond establishing an LCC baseline, this project considers the sensitivity of the total LCC to various inputs and thereby provides guidance on the question of where to put valuable resources to substantially reduce PV system costs. Further discussion is offered concerning the additional value of this model in determining the impact of various methods of PV system performance tracking.

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