EME 810
Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

Online Simulation Tools for Solar


The following simulation software will be used in this course throughout the semester:

Please use the links below to become familiar with these tools somewhat ahead of time. We will be ready to start using them in Lesson 2 of the course.

1. National Renewable Energy Laboratory: System Advisor Model (SAM)

One of your main solar project tools for this course will be NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM):

"The System Advisor Model (SAM) is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry:

  • Project managers and engineers
  • Policy analysts
  • Technology developers
  • Researchers

SAM makes performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects based on installation and operating costs and system design parameters that you specify as inputs to the model. Projects can be either on the customer side of the utility meter, buying and selling electricity at retail rates, or on the utility side of the meter, selling electricity at a price negotiated through a power purchase agreement (PPA)."

If you have not used SAM before, you may want to please check the link to NREL now and do a little reading. The software is free for download to both Mac and Windows OS.

2. University of Oregon Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory: Sun Charts

We will use a very useful tool to plot shading diagrams, the UO Sun Chart tool. Prof. Frank Vignola and his team at the University of Oregon have developed a great web tool to get us started for plots of time and space in solar energy. I welcome you to explore their Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory main page when you have time.