Funding Program: SuNLaMP
SunShot Subprogram: Systems Integration
Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,232,000

This project focuses on the System Advisor Model (SAM) software created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). SAM is a performance and finance model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry. SAM makes performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects based on installation, operating costs, and system design parameters that users enter into the tool. This project will improve and maintain many features of the tool that has been instrumental in advancing the solar industry. Basic maintenance for the PVWatts Calculator tool will also be completed.


Through this project, the SAM team will implement more accurate models for the latest solar technologies and ensure a high-level of confidence in modelling results through detailed validations. The team will also develop an open platform that allow private companies, researchers, and academics to build custom, proprietary, and high value-add features, sub-models, and methods on top of the existing SAM PV and battery models. Stakeholder outreach via direct technical support, documentation, webinars, and direct engagement with the international community of PV modeling experts will help achieve project goals. Completion of this project will also provide the latest and most accurate datasets developed at NREL for system components, solar resources, incentive information, utility tariffs, in addition to software upgrades, through ongoing public software releases.


Accelerating the deployment of solar energy technologies requires validated and transparent software tools that analyze the performance and economics of solar plants. These tools should provide access to the latest and most accurate modeling techniques, implement standard practices for economic evaluations, be easy to use and learn, provide an open platform to enable custom third-party extensions, and be freely available to the solar community. This project will allow SAM to meet these requirements.