Availability and Performance Loss Factors for U.S. PV Fleet Systems

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


In the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative, we partner with photovoltaic (PV) fleet owners to collect time-series PV production data and publish aggregated, anonymized results. This report is an update of our previous publications, specifically a FY 2021 performance index publication and a FY 2022 fleet degradation analysis. In this analysis, we have increased our data participants and system totals by around 10% to 8.5 GW and 24,000 separate inverter data channels. Four major analysis topics are considered in this report: Performance Index (PI) trends, PV system availability, soiling losses, and PV system degradation. Performance Index and inverter availability are assessed on a larger set of data from our FY 2021 report: 1,128 systems compared with 200 systems from before. The increased number of systems is due to an improved data quality methodology, as well as introducing new systems to the analysis. Overall results are similar to previously published values - overall inverter availability is low in the first six months of system performance before reaching steady-state by the end of the first year. Excluding this six-month startup period, system-level aggregated data shows a median (P50) system availability of 0.99 and a lower 10th percentile (P90) value of 0.95 (Figure ES-1). A dependence on system size is also demonstrated, with worse inverter availability results for larger PV systems. Causes of this effect are under investigation, but may be impacted by inverter size, which also show lower availability for larger inverter sizes. This report also investigates PI, correcting for degradation, soiling, snow, and availability. Following these corrections, the median system PI over its entire lifetime is 0.95. PI values reported here are approximately 3% lower than what we presented in our previous FY 2021 report. Soiling loss is assessed in a comprehensive way for the first time in this report. Results are presented using the COmbined Degradation and Soiling (CODS) method, as implemented in RdTools (v3.0.0a4). Soiling values are presented for 255 systems, which indicated irradiance-weighted soiling loss greater than 1%. The values have been published in an updated NREL soiling map at nrel.gov/pv/soiling.html. Finally, we investigated system degradation using three different data analysis techniques: conventional RdTools (year-on-year (YOY)), CODS, and Performance Loss Rate (PLR) analysis. Overall degradation results are consistent with our previous publications. Rerunning conventional RdTools on our updated fleet shows that some data partners have systematically fallen below the median system degradation rate (change over time) of -0.75 %/year. A comparison with PLR analysis, which looks at change in annual PI over time, shows that median system degradation is consistent with -0.5% to -0.75% per year change. However, at the P90 value, system degradation is substantially faster. These two results are consistent and indicate that resulting degradation statistics depend to a great degree on the population of PV systems making up the analysis cohort and whether soiling impacts the systems. The use of CODS for degradation analysis provides a different method for degradation assessment, which explicitly excludes the impact of recoverable soiling on degradation analysis. Excluding soiling effects yields an annual system degradation around -0.5% per year on average. This indicates that a portion of system performance loss may be attributed to periodic soiling that is not fully recovered. This report provides PV system owners/operators with background and methods to analyze PV system performance, give guidance for expected cohort performance, and performance loss values for use in pro-forma financial models, which guide new-build system design and bankability reports.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages33
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5K00-88769


  • availability
  • degradation
  • fleet
  • performance loss rate
  • PV
  • soiling
  • system


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