Considering the Variability of Soiling in Long-Term PV Performance Forecasting

Matthew Muller, Faisal Rashed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study presents the development of a methodology for evaluating the variability associated with soiling on long-term photovoltaic (PV) forecasting. Independent engineering firms typically build forecasts for large PV plants through the use of the PVsyst software, where monthly soiling losses are one of many inputs to the P50 model. Subsequently, long-term performance distributions are constructed through a Monte Carlo analysis that includes various factors, such as satellite irradiance modeling uncertainty, uncertainty in the PVsyst model, and long-term irradiance variability. Often the PVsyst model uncertainty is increased to account for sites with significant soiling concerns but no systematic method has been presented in the literature to specifically include soiling variability within long-term performance uncertainty. In this work soiling information from 16 sites in the U.S. Southwest are combined with 24 years of rainfall data to generate 24 years of energy production with soiling losses and then subsequently generate probability of exceedance values (e.g., P50, P90, P95...). The results show that the size of the 90% confidence interval (P5-P95) can increase from -0.7% to 10.1% when interannual soiling variability and soiling rate uncertainty is included.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5K00-85776 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-87429


  • interannual variability
  • p-values
  • performance forecasting
  • photovoltaic soiling
  • uncertainty


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