By Doug Broach, TrinaPro Business Development Manager
Ensuring the maximum longevity of a utility-scale solar installation remains a top priority for every project stakeholder. The longer the assumed PV system’s expected useful life, the better the chances for achieving a return on investment (ROI) and further enhancing the project’s long-term profitability.
Currently, the expected project-life assumptions for the useful life of utility-scale solar plants has extended from 21.5 years in 2007 to 32.5 years in 2019. This data comes from the “Benchmarking Utility-Scale PV Operational Expenses and Project Lifetimes” report published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy.
A major contributing factor for this burst of project longevity arises from a significant decline in anticipated operating expenditures (OpEx). Improvements in project life and OpEx helped reduce the average levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from $305/MWh for projects built in 2007-2009 to $51/MWh in 2019.
Even with this good news in place, there are still ways that project stakeholders can further increase the useful life of a project while continuing to drive down LCOE.
What EPCs and Project Developers Can Do
Utility-scale EPCs and developers need to ensure projects operate at optimal efficiency to reach the longest utility plant life possible. This helps keep down the system’s LCOE while increasing the potential for project profitability.
In order to remain competitive, extend useful life and decrease OpEx, utility-scale EPCs and project developers can take several steps.
Use high quality PV modules and components
Installing high quality PV modules and components helps ensure that the system performs optimally while it harvests as much sunlight as possible. These modules and components also tend to be best-in-class and have a longer shelf life than competitors. Better modules and components increase the chances of extending the installation’s useful life.
Optimize system performance
Installing the right mix of components is crucial for optimizing system performance. High interoperability helps keep the PV system working like a well-oiled machine, which plays a significant role in achieving maximum utility solar plant lifespan.
Secure industry-leading warranties
Having modules or components reach their end of life before the PV power plant can inhibit system performance and shorten the project’s useful life. Thankfully, industry-leading module and component warranties can help guarantee the project continues generating renewable energy for as long as the warranties last.
Perform regular O&M
Declining O&M costs have led to an increase in scheduled and unscheduled O&M for utility solar plants. This has been one of the largest contributors of the declining OpEx. Regular O&M remains a key factor for maintaining a utility PV installation and extending its useful life.
Partner with an all-in-one smart solar solution provider
TrinaPro, the all-in-one smart solar solution, helps make it easier for EPCs and project developers. With seamless procurement, optimized component interoperability and smart O&M services, the TrinaPro Solution delivers project success through lower LCOE and higher power gains. Collectively, these services can potentially help EPCs and project developers extend the useful life for utility-scale solar installations. Achieving maximum project lifespan helps expand value for financiers and provides a greater potential for profitability.
Click here to learn more about how the TrinaPro Solution can help project stakeholders deliver utility solar success.
This is the second part of a four-part series on utility-scale solar opportunities. Check back soon for more expert insight into this growing sector.
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