The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) supports a web tool, PVWatts, that estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) energy systems throughout the world. It allows homeowners, small building owners, installers and manufacturers to easily estimate the performance of potential PV installations and their economic potential in different geographic regions, offering a quick and easy look at the solar potential of a specific facility.
System Advisory Model (SAM)
SAM is a model that assesses the performance and costs of a range of renewable energy technologies, and compares them with conventional power sources. SAM uses an hourly performance model to estimate a specific power system's total annual output, and a cost and financial model to calculate a project cash flow. Performance and financial metrics are reported in tables and graphs, which can be exported for use in reports or for further analysis in other models.
Utility Rate Database API
The Open Energy Information (OpenEI) Utility Rate Database (URDB) is a free storehouse of rate structure information from utilities in the United States. Here, you can search for your utilities and rates to find out exactly how you are charged for your electric energy usage. Understanding this information can help reduce your bill, for example, by running your appliances during off-peak hours (times during the day when electricity prices are less expensive) and help you make more informed decisions regarding your energy usage. It has 45,150 rates have been contributed for 3,834 EIA-recognized utility companies.
PV Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI)
PV JEDI is designed to be an easy-to-use, excel based calculator which uses IMPLAN's (IMpact analysis for PLANning) economic multipliers to estimate the economic impacts of constructing and operating photovoltaic power generation at the local and state levels.
The Open PV Project
The Open PV Project allows users to visualize individual PV installations as points on an animated map, and see where and when solar energy activity sprang up around the United States. The collected data is actively maintained by contributors to provide an evolving, up-to-date snapshot of the US solar power market, indicating areas where solar penetration has been especially successful.
Rooftop Solar Challenge (RSC) Database
Data from teams participating in the Rooftop Solar Challenge (RSC) can be accessed by obtaining an API key. The data is collected from each jurisdiction on a team over three time periods (past, present, and future) and used to calculate a team’s market maturity using the Solar Market Maturity Model (SM3). The SM3 is organized around four Action Areas: Permitting and Interconnection; Financing; Planning and Zoning; and Net Metering and Interconnection Standards. Each team’s data is translated into a score with a maximum of 1000.
Cost of Renewable Energy Spreadsheet Tool (CREST)
CREST is an economic cash flow model designed to allow policymakers, regulators, and the renewable energy community to assess project economics, design cost-based incentives (e.g., feed-in tariffs), and evaluate the impact of various state and federal support structures. CREST is a suite of four analytic tools, for solar (photovoltaic and solar thermal), wind, geothermal, and anaerobic digestion technologies. It is also used by project managers to do preliminary back-of-the-envelope calculations of the year one cost of energy for renewable energy projects.
Solar Energy Environmental Mapper
The Solar Energy Environmental Mapper is a web-based application that displays environmental data for the southwest U.S. in the context of utility-scale solar energy development. It provides access to screening-level data about resources and constraints, with analysis tools to help improve siting decisions.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Solar Energy Zones
The BLM Solar Energy Zones designate priority development areas for utility-scale solar energy facilities as identified in the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) Record of Decision. An additional Solar Energy Zone identified in the Arizona Restoration Design Energy Project (RDEP) can also be downloaded.
The Solar Roadmap is a customizable, interactive web platform, which shows the real-time status of the solar market in more than 70 participating jurisdictions, and includes case studies of successful projects, lists and resources to connect with utility partners who support solar development.
NREL's Solar Prospector is a mapping and analysis tool designed to provide access to geospatial data relevant to the solar industry and for the siting of utility-scale solar plants in particular. The application provides easy access to solar resource, land ownership, environmental, administrative and infrastructural data to help assess solar development potential within the United States. The Solar Prospector also provides the ability for users to download solar resource data in a variety of formats for further exploration and analysis.
Energy Information Administration API
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.
The Energy Information Administration API provides a RESTful API to many of the EIA's datasets, including 408,000 electricity data series and 11,000+ natural gas data series, with more being added every month. Learn more →