Performance of Photovoltaic Systems Recorded by Open Solar Performance and Reliability Clearinghouse (oSPARC)

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This article analyzes data from 2,200 photovoltaic systems collected through the Open Solar Performance and Reliability Clearinghouse (oSPARC, 2018) to draw conclusions about the measured performance of the systems, how it compares to expectations, and how wide the variation is. The systems range in size from 2 kW to 1,200 kW, with an average size of 229 kW, and were activated in oSPARC between March 13, 2007 and Dec. 16, 2016. Data regarding co-incident insolation and ambient temperature are provided through the oSPARC platform for the population of systems and summarized here. Results indicate that - after correcting for measured insolation, derating for temperature, and correcting for balance-of-system efficiency and degradation as a result of system age - the performance ratio of these 2,200 systems averages 91.7%. Adjusting for known parameters such as age and efficiency, the ratio would ideally be 100%. Thus, the 'underperformance' of this system sample is measured at 9.3% and suggests that as much as 9.3% could be recovered if the systems were caused to perform as expected through optimal operation and maintenance. Efforts to correlate the performance ratio with environmental conditions resulted in very low coefficients of regression, but the method already normalizes for actual site insolation and temperature, which are responsible for much of the site-specific variation. An exemption is air-quality nonattainment areas, where the measured performance of plants averages 86.9% and is consistently lower than the average of 95.9% in areas that are in compliance with air quality standards, likely because of particulate matter such as diesel soot exacerbating the soiling rate.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5C00-75162


  • actuarial data
  • energy production
  • performance measurement
  • performance ratio
  • photovoltaic system performance
  • PV


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