PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative: Performance Index-Based Analysis

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


In this analysis, we report on 250 PV systems throughout the US, comprising 157 MWdc of system capacity and over 10,000 monthly PI values based on high-frequency (subhourly) energy data and satellite-based resource data. The distribution of PI values is analyzed, and multiple causes of underperformance are assessed, including first-year startup issues, snowfall and inverter downtime. An initial distribution of raw monthly PI values was collected with mean measured / modeled performance of PI = 0.935. After correcting for the three identifiable loss factors mentioned above, an average monthly performance of PI = 0.994 was obtained, with a distribution closely following a Gumbel Extreme Value distribution. In particular, inverter availability was found to contribute a system energy loss of 2.3% on average, except in the first six months of operation when availability losses are closer to 8%. Other startup issues beyond inverter downtime such as partial string outage contributed an additional 5% underperformance in the first year of operation across the fleet. Winter performance was also found to be 5%-10% below summer performance on average, likely due to snowfall. A simple linear relationship was found between snow loss and monthly snowfall accumulation in cm, indicating between 6% - 40% loss in months with nonzero snowfall, depending on climate.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5K00-78720


  • availability
  • degradation
  • fleet
  • loss factor
  • PV
  • snow


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