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
Featured Contributor for Sep, 2016
Cb Solar Inc
(website)
About

The Project

The Open PV Project is a collaborative effort between government, industry, and the public that continues to compile a database of available public data for photovoltaic (PV) installation data for the United States. Data for the project are voluntarily contributed from a variety of sources including solar incentive programs, utilities, installers, and the general public. 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. 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. The core dataset is provided by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), which annually produces the Tracking the Sun report, now in its ninth year. LBL collects data from most state run incentive programs, large utilities, and other organizations. Data are also provided directly by the PV community, including installers, businesses, and consumers. The installations represented in the LBL dataset comprise about 78% of the more than 1 million installations in the Open PV database, with the rest coming from the community. It is our hope that the database will continue to grow through contributions from the PV community.

Data Quality

Data from incentive programs are subject to the data validation procedures of that particular program administrator. Data submitted by other users may not be subject to any particular data validation procedures. The Open PV team employs limited validation and cleaning procedures to remove outliers in all data submitted. Records found to contain questionable data by users can be flagged and are reviewed on a case by case basis by a member of the Open PV Team. 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. In general, data from governmental sources (state, federal, etc.) are considered more reliable because such users are often involved with incentive programs that have a defined data collection process in place. Utility and PV installers also often have direct access to source data that is uploaded.

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, the original and possible duplicate records are manually investigated to determine the likelihood that the two are, in fact, duplicates. If multiple records are determined to be duplicates, the two records are merged into a single record. Identifying duplicate records helps maintain the validity of the database by merging multiple records of the same installation into a single record. A thorough de-duplication process is completed annually when the new dataset from Tracking the Sun is ingested.

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Download the "The Open PV Project: Unlocking PV Installation Data" brochure for an 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 including PV installers, utilities and the general public.

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. Open PV also allows users to download datasets of interest, download the entire dataset in multiple formats, or access the data through an API to allow for reuse of the data in other applications.

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 (ZIP code or street address)
  • Total installed cost (in USD, before any applicable incentives)
Additionally, the user is allowed to capture much more detail on their individual systems that they add. That data can include a much richer set of information.

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. The data are also available for free download by users.

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 Open PV Project.

However, these are static reports and consumers of the information have no way of querying or interacting with the data behind the analyses. Also, these reports typically only include data from the major state rebate programs, and are only published once per year. By including data from other sources as it becomes available throughout the year, the Open PV Project provides a dynamic and interactive view into the PV market. Further, Open PV provides several methods for users to search for and download various slices of the data, the entire database, or the complete Tracking the Sun dataset.

How does Open PV cost data compare to other analyses?

Open PV cost estimates reflect host-owned systems only, on a pre-incentive basis. In the case of a third party owned system (in which the customer signs a lease or a PPA with the system owner/financer), these costs will not be reflective of lease/PPA costs. Lease and PPA costs typically net incentives, and are often billed monthly.

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 visualizations, including the State Rankings application; which is featured in our visualization gallery. Your data may also be added to other NREL projects and applications.

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?").