Lifecycle cost analysis for modular design of solar power systems
Irudayaraj, Prashanth Philip
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Solar power systems are becoming increasingly popular due to the fact that solar power can offer time and money saving solutions for off-grid and grid-connected homes, cabins, and businesses with clean and affordable energy. However, there are still significant opportunities to reduce the cost of solar power systems by optimizing system design. This paper presents a methodology for evaluating the lifecycle labor costs of solar power systems. This methodology can help optimize system designs relative to cost. It can also support solar power system selection decisions based on a holistic lifecycle view. The methodology accomplishes this by first presenting a method to evaluate the modularity of competing systems, or design variants. It then describes a method of gathering data and modeling the systems so that it can be communicated to relevant stakeholders. Finally, it uses discrete event simulation to generate an estimate of relative lifecycle labor cost performance. Verification and validation of the methods described are presented through a case study of the MegaModule residential solar power system, designed by the team at GTRI. The paper concludes with a review of limitations and proposed future work.