Modeling Utility-scale PV Systems

A demonstration and Q&A session on SAM's Detailed PV and PVWatts models for utility-scale systems. This webinar focuses on the PV model inputs. See other webinars on financial model topics. Demonstration using SAM 2022.11.21 r3.

Supporting Materials

Modeling PV Systems in SAM 2020.2.29

This webinar demonstrates design steps for a photovoltaic system in the Detailed Photovoltaic model, string sizing with the System Sizing macro, tracking and self-shading, and an overview of shading, soiling, snow, and other losses, P50/P90 simulations, and importing data from other models.

Supporting Materials

Modeling PV Systems with Fuel Cells and Battery Storage, Sep 2019

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Modeling PV Systems with Multiple MPPTs, Oct 2018

In this webinar, we introduce a new feature in SAM's Detailed Photovoltaic model for systems with more than one maximum power point tracker to allow for arrays with different string lengths.

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Preview of SAM's New Model for Bifacial PV Modules, Aug 2018

NREL's Nicholas DiOrio introduces the new bifacial module model for SAM's Detailed Photovoltaic Model.

Supporting Materials

Photovoltaic Reliability Performance Model (PVRPM) in SAM 2017.9.5, Dec 2017

Geoff Klise of Sandia and Janine Freeman of NREL provide an overview of the Photovoltaic Reliability Performance Model (PVRPM) in SAM, which is implemented as an LK script.

Supporting Materials and Links

Sizing Photovoltaic Systems in SAM 2017.1.17, Aug 2017

Janine Freeman demonstrates different techniques for sizing photovoltaic systems in SAM using the Detailed Photovoltaic performance model, including >PV sizing considerations, electrical system sizing overview, DC to AC ratio, inverter sizing macro, microinverters and DC optimizers, multiple subarrays, physical system sizing, and limitations of SAM for system sizing.

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Modeling a Residential Photovoltaic System in SAM 2016.3.14

Aron Dobos demonstrates how to model a residential photovoltaic system in SAM 2016.3.14, using a location in Oregon as an example. He covers weather data, system design, financial and incentive assumptions, electricity rates and building load data, and shows how to review the model results. See the Questions and Answers document under "Supporting Materials" below for a record of written audience questions and answers by the SAM team, along with sample files and other documents he used during the presentation.

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Modeling Shading Losses for PV Systems, Aug 2014

The Modeling Shading Losses for Photovoltaic Systems in SAM webinar was presented on August 29, 2014 by Aron Dobos of NREL, and describes options for modeling near-object and self shading in SAM, and previews the new 3D shade calculator that will be included in the new version of SAM scheduled for release in the Fall of 2014.

PV Module Database Comparison, Aug 2014

Nate Blair of NREL describes a study comparing photovoltaic module parameters for those module available in the module libraries of following three models: SAM, PVsyst, and PV*SOL.

PV Model Validation, Dec 2013

The PV Model Validation using Measured Performance Data webinar was presented on December 11, 2013. It describes NREL's analysis comparing SAM photovoltaic performance model simulation results to performance measurements of nine installed photovoltaic systems.

The webinar is based on the work described in the following NREL publication:

Freeman, J., Whitmore, J., Kaffine, L., Blair, N., Dobos, A.. (2013). System Advisor Model: Flat Plate Photovoltaic Performance Modeling Validation Report. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL/TP-6A20-60204. (PDF 4.3 MB)

For documentation of other similar analyses, see the PV Validation page.

In the question-and-answer session at the end of the webinar, we mentioned research on the accuracy of simulation results based on typical-year weather data. This study is a good overview with references to other work that you can explore as well. The study described in the following publication was done for modeling CSP systems but has information about weather data that also applies to modeling flat plate solar technologies:

Sengupta, M.; Habte, A.; Kurtz, S.; Dobos, A.; Wilbert, S.; Lorenz, E.; Stoffel, T.; Renne, D.; Myers, D.; Wilcox, S.; Blanc, P.; Perez, R. (2015). "Best Practices Handbook for the Collection and Use of Solar Resource Data for Solar Energy Applications." NREL Report No. TP-5D00-63112. (PDF 8.9 MB)

Residential and Commercial PV Systems, Jul 2013

The Modeling Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems in SAM 2013.1.15 webinar was presented on July 10, 2013. It describes how to model a PV system using the PVWatts and Flat Plate PV model with either the residential or commercial financial model. The demonstration uses SAM 2013.1.15, which was released in January 2013. The presentation was made by Paul Gilman.

  • Presentation slides with steps for the tasks in the demonstration (PDF 4 MB).