When it comes to making performance predictions and cost-of-energy estimates for grid-connected power projects, you can trust SAM to make it happen. SAM, or the System Advisor Model, is a performance and financial analysis tool funded by the SunShot Initiative that was built based on computer models developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and other organizations.

SAM is designed to assist decision making for people in the renewable energy industry. SAM’s user interface makes it possible to build a model of a renewable energy project, and to make cost and performance projections based on the results. SAM’s ease of use and comprehensive analysis framework came in handy for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which set out to examine the possible effects on utility-scale renewable electricity generation projects of actual and planned reductions in the value of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the Production Tax Credit (PTC). These tax credits can account for a large portion of the total after-tax returns from investments in renewable energy projects.

The GAO used SAM’s analysis as the basis of a recently published report “ELECTRICITY GENERATION PROJECTS: Additional Data Could Improve Understanding of the Effectiveness of Tax Expenditures.” Using SAM, the GAO estimated that reducing or eliminating the value of these tax credits increases the required revenues provided through power purchase agreements by approximately 20 to 25 % for the ITC and approximately 30 to 60 % for the PTC. This suggests that the contributions of the tax credits to total after-tax returns are substantial.

GAO’s use of SAM is another example of the impact of technologies and tools that are powered by SunShot investments, whether in the private or public sector. Learn more about SAM and read the GAO report.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.