Predicting Photovoltaic Soiling Losses Using Environmental Parameters: An Update

Leonardo Micheli, Michael Deceglie, Matthew Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus Citations


This study presents an investigation on the correlations between soiling losses and environmental parameters at 41 locations in the United States, with the aim of analyzing the possibility of predicting soiling losses at a site even when soiling data are not available. The results of this work, which considers the largest pool of soiling data points systematically investigated so far, confirm that a single-variable regression based on particulate matter concentration returns the best correlations with soiling, with adjusted coefficients of determination up to 70%, corresponding to RMSE as low as 0.9%. Among the various particulate matter datasets investigated, a gridded Environment Protection Agency dataset is for the first time found to return correlations similar to those obtained by interpolating particulate matter monitoring station data. We discuss in detail the different interpolation techniques used to process the particulate matter concentrations because they can greatly impact the correlations. Specifically, the correlation coefficients between soiling and particulate matter range between 70% and less than 20%, depending on the interpolation methods and monitoring distance. Spatial interpolation methods based on inverse distance weighting are found to return better correlations than a nearest neighbor or a simple average approach, especially when large distances are considered. Similarly, the effects of different rain thresholds used to calculate the length of the dry periods are examined. An enhanced two-variable regression is found to achieve higher-quality correlations, with adjusted R 2 of 90% (RMSE = 0.55%), also suggesting that high and low soiling locations might be differentiated depending on fixed particulate matter or rainfall thresholds.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)210-219
Number of pages10
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-71637


  • linear regression
  • particulate matter
  • photovoltaic performance
  • precipitation
  • soiling


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