About the Open PV Project
What is the Open PV Project?
  • A community driven, comprehensive database of solar PV installs
  • Collaboration between government, industry and the public
  • Real-time status of the U.S. solar PV market
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Cb Solar Inc
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About

The Project

The Open PV Project is a collaborative effort between government, industry, and the public that is compiling a comprehensive database of photovoltaic (PV) installation data for the United States. Data for the project are voluntarily contributed from a variety of sources including utilities, installers, and the general public. The data collected is actively maintained by the contributors and are always changing to provide an evolving, up-to-date snapshot of the US solar power market.

Data Collection

The Open PV Project is collecting data from any willing contributor of available information. NREL has "seeded" the Open PV database by requesting data from most state run incentive programs, large utilities, and other organizations. This initial data collection has provided a solid base of data for the project to launch from and it is our hope that the database will continue to grow through contributions from the PV community and anyone interested in understanding PV market dynamics in the US.

Data Quality

Determining the quality of incoming data is dependent upon who is submitting the data to the project. This means that data coming from users associated with a particular organization may be "trusted" more than data from other unknown users. Each registered user is assigned a default "score" based on their organizational affiliation. This score is highest for Government users (State, Federal, etc.) because such users are often involved with incentive programs that have a defined data collection process in place. Second are utility and PV installers (and others in the PV industry), and so on. All users who contribute data to the project have the ability to gain a "project reputation" that can impact the score of the data they contribute.

Validation

Data validation occurs on each record in the database on a regular basis. The database is continually analyzed for corrupt records, bad or invalid data, and outliers such as an abnormal cost to watt ratio. Records found to contain questionable data are flagged and are dealt with on a case by case basis by a member of the Open PV Team.

Duplication

Understanding duplication is one of the ways that individual records are validated. In a publicly contributed database, it is imperative to anticipate the submission of duplicate records. When duplicate records are detected, they are added to an install specific list of duplicates and the data provided are aggregated into "summary records" of their respective installs. Identifying duplicate records helps validate PV installs in the database. The more a PV installation is duplicated in the database, the more trust the project places on the data for that installation.

Data Fields

Required Fields

The Open PV Project is designed to be able to store nearly any type of information pertaining to PV installations. In order to provide the primary statistics from the database we have identified 4 data fields that are required of each PV install added to the project. These four fields are:

  • Date Installed (Completion date or interconnection date)
  • Size/Capacity of the PV Installation (in kW DC)
  • Location (Zipcode or Street Address)
  • Total Installed Cost (in USD, before incentives)

Additional Fields

The four required fields listed above provide the Open PV Project with the base information needed to derive several key statistics on the US PV market, including historical trends and regional comparisons. However, the design of the Open PV database is capable of storing nearly any type of data associated with PV installation, so the Open PV Team would like to encourage you to contribute any additional information you are comfortable sharing. This extra information can be extremely valuable, for example, data that contains information about who installed the PV installation can help to answer very useful questions about where certain installers are working. Information on module or inverter types can be useful in mapping efficiency and detailed financing information can be a key factor in understanding trends in overall installation cost. The Open PV Team strongly encourages you to contribute any data you feel comfortable providing, especially data you would like to see visualized in our gallery someday.

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Download the "The Open PV Project: Unlocking PV Installation Data" brochure for a concise yet comprehensive overview of the project.
FAQ
These are some of the commonly asked questions that we have received. Please feel free to contact us with additional questions, comments or concerns.

What is the Open PV Project?

The Open PV Project is a collaborative effort between government, industry, and the public that strives to develop a comprehensive database of photovoltaic (PV) installations for the United States.

Who is this project meant for?

This project is designed for anyone interested in US PV market trends. A variety of users, including PV installers, utilities and the general public are already finding value in the information that the Open PV project is delivering.

What is the project trying to do?

The project is compiling a database of PV installations for the US. This database serves as a web-based resource for users to easily explore and understand the current and past trends of the US PV industry. Additionally, users may add their own PV installation data, browse PV data entered by others, or view statistics derived from installation data. Moving forward, NREL will add additional data and use this information to drive further analysis of market growth.

What types of data can I upload?

The Open PV project utilizes a schema-less database and will accept almost any type of information so long as it relates to an existing PV installation. To maintain continuity and facilitate our base industry analysis, there are four primary fields that are required by the Open PV Project:

  • Date Installed (Completion date or interconnection date)
  • Size/Capacity (in kW DC)
  • Location (Zipcode or Street Address)
  • Total Installed Cost (in USD, before incentives)

Why should I register for the Open PV Project?

In order to be able to upload and contribute your own data you must be a registered user.

In what way is the project "Open"?

The Open PV Project is "Open" because it is designed to collect data from all possible sources. All the data in the project are collected from datasets made available from Government organizations, PV installers, Utilities, and the general public.

How does Open PV compare to other PV data collection efforts?

There are several other notable PV data collection and analysis efforts, including but not limited to the Tracking the Sun report series from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the US Solar Market Trends report published by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. These reports summarize the PV market on an annual basis and provide a finer level of detail and statistical rigor to the PV market analysis than the OpenPV Project.

However, these reports are only published once per year -- leaving a major information void between report releases. Also, these reports typically only include data from the major state rebate programs, potentially leaving important data out of the analysis. Finally, these are static reports and consumers of the information have no way of querying or interacting with the data behind the analyses.

The OpenPV Project aims to complement, not replace these reports, by providing a more dynamic and interactive view into the PV market. The data is more dynamic because data is uploaded and published to the site as it becomes available throughout the year. This allows users to visualize data and potentially identify trends as they develop. The data is more interactive because the OpenPV Project provides the ability for users to search the database and explore information for individual installation records. The site also provides an interactive data aggregation and analysis tool, the Market Mapper, that allows users to explore statistics from the data at a variety of spatial scales.

How does Open PV cost data compare to other analyses?

OpenPV cost estimates are more conservative than many PV cost estimates because the costs reported by the OpenPV Project are pre-incentive costs, meaning the costs do not take into account tax incentives or cash rebates associated with the project. We are currently exploring ways to publish both pre-incentive and post-incentive cost data to provide a more comprehensive and accurate reflection of actual project costs.

I uploaded data, now how I can see it in the database?

Data uploaded to the Open PV database can be viewed in a number of different ways. The easiest way to view your data is to visit our search page and make sure the box is checked to restrict the search to your data. This will allow you to drill down to single installs that you have contributed and edit them if necessary. You must be logged in for this feature to work. Additionally, your data will begin to appear in one or more of our many visualizations, including The Open PV Market Mapper and the State Rankings application; both of which are featured in our visualization gallery. Your data may also be added to other NREL projects and applications, such as the Solar America Cities comparison application.

How can I edit my data?

To edit your data, find the record you wish to edit by searching for it on the search page. The easiest way to isolate your records is to check the box which restricts the search to your data. Once you've located the install you wish to edit, select it to display the install details on the right side of the screen. If the record belongs to you, clicking the button to 'Edit' near to top of the detail panel will allow you to edit the record. You must be logged in to edit your data.

I see data that looks incorrect, how can I correct it?

In addition to our many data quality checks, we allow users to inform us when data appears inaccurate. To do so, find the install on the search page, select it to view the install details and then click the "Flag" button. You can then tell us what is wrong with the record and we will investigate the claim and make the necessary corrections. If you contributed the install, you can simply edit the data and save your changes (see: "How can I edit my data?").