System Advisor Model: Flat Plate Photovoltaic Performance Modeling Validation Report

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The System Advisor Model (SAM) is a free software tool that performs detailed analysis of both system performance and system financing for a variety of renewable energy technologies. This report provides detailed validation of the SAM flat plate photovoltaic performance model by comparing SAM-modeled PV system generation data to actual measured production data for nine PV systems ranging from 75kW to greater than 25 MW in size. The results show strong agreement between SAM predictions and field data, with annualized prediction error below 3% for all fixed tilt cases and below 8% for all one axis tracked cases. The analysis concludes that snow cover and system outages are the primary sources of disagreement, and other deviations resulting from seasonal biases in the irradiation modelsand one axis tracking issues are discussed in detail.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages129
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-60204


  • bankability
  • comparison
  • Desoto
  • error
  • First Solar, Inc.
  • measured data
  • performance model
  • photovoltaics (PV)
  • PV models
  • SAM
  • solar
  • SunEdison
  • SunPower
  • System Advisor Model (SAM)
  • uncertainty
  • validation


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