SAM's battery storage model is for the following types of batteries

  • Lead-acid
  • Lithium-ion
  • Vanadium redox flow
  • All iron flow

It can model the following types of battery storage projects:

  • Behind-the-meter projects where the battery is connected on the electricity customer's side of the electric utility meter.
  • Front-of-meter projects where the battery is connected on the electric utility's side of the meter or for utility-scale applications.
  • Peak shaving where the battery is used to reduce an electricity customer's monthly demand charge.
  • Energy arbitrage where the battery stores solar energy during the day and discharges at night.

Although SAM does not have a standalone battery model, a standalone storage system can be modeled using the techniques described in this webinar. NREL plans to add a standalone battery model to SAM in late 2019 or early 2020.

SAM's battery storage model is available with the Detailed Photovoltaic, PVWatts, and Generic System performance models.

How-to Videos

A quick video showing how to size a PV-plus-battery system in SAM:

Modeling Photovoltaic Battery Systems in SAM 2017.1.17

Nicholas Diorio describes and demonstrates the new battery model features in SAM 2017.1.17. These include:

  • DC-connected batteries
  • PV-battery systems with PPA financial models for utility-scale systems
  • Simple battery model for PVWatts
  • Improvements to automated dispatch algorithm

For an introduction to SAM's PV-battery model, see "Modeling a photovoltaic battery system in SAM 2016.3.14" below.

Supporting materials:

Modeling a Photovoltaic Battery System in SAM 2016.3.14

Nicholas DiOrio builds on the Modeling a Residential Photovoltaic System in SAM 2016.3.14 webinar by continuing the demonstration and adding a battery storage system to the residential photovoltaic system. We will cover battery design parameters, dispatch options, and analyzing battery results.

Supporting materials:

Battery Storage for Photovoltaic Systems, Sep 2015

Nicholas DiOrio describes the battery storage model that is part of SAM's detailed photovoltaic model on September 17, 2015.

Supporting materials:

Photovoltaic Battery Model Beta Version Introduction, Jun 2015

NREL's Nicholas DiOrio introduces a pre-release Beta version of SAM's new battery model for photovoltaic systems. For a more up-to-date presentation of the model, see Battery Storage for Photovoltaic Systems, Sep 2015 above.


Diorio, N.; Freeman, J., Blair, N. (2019). DC-connected Solar Plus Storage Modeling and Analysis for Behind-the-Meter Systems in SAM. Presented at 2018 WPEC-7 and 45th IEEE PVSC. NREL/PR-6A20-71779. (PDF 488 KB)

DiOrio, N.; Freeman, J.; Blair, N. (2018). DC-connected Solar Plus Storage Modeling and Analysis for Behind-The-Meter Systems in the System Advisor Model. NREL/CP-6A20-71636. (PDF 1.3 MB)

DiOrio, N.; Hobbs, W. (2018). Economic Dispatch for DC-connected Battery Systems on Large PV Plants. NREL/PR-6A20-72513. (PDF 653)

DiOrio, N. (2017). An Overview of the Automated Dispatch Controller Algorithms in SAM. NREL/TP-6A20-68614. (PDF 770 KB)

DiOrio, N.; Dobos, A.; Janzou, S.; Nelson, A.; Lunstrom, B. (2015). Technoeconomic Modeling of Battery Energy Storage in SAM. 32 pp. NREL/TP-6A20-64641 (PDF 2.6 MB)

DiOrio, N.; Dobos, A.; Janzou, S. (2015). Economic Analysis Case Studies of Battery Energy Storage with SAM. 22 pp. NREL/TP-6A20-64987 (PDF 550 KB)

SAM's default battery cost values were chosen to be roughly representative of battery costs for a project in the United States to help you get started using the model. You should review and change those costs for your own analysis.

Default battery costs are from the NREL Annual Technology Baseline.

For additional information about battery storage costs, see the following publications:

Fu, R.; Remo, T.; Margolis, R. (2018). 2018 U.S. Utility-Scale PhotovoltaicsPlus-Energy Storage System Costs Benchmark. NREL/TP-6A20-71714. (PDF 1.57 MB)

Fu, R.; Remo, T.; Margolis, R. (2018). U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2018. NREL/TP-6A20-72399. (PDF 4.24 MB)