The many PV design solutions on the market today go beyond simply taking the guesswork out of laying out a photovoltaic system or solar plant. Many have similar features, such as taking shade into account in energy production modeling. Yet others provide more robust designs and reports such as those including bankability details, full sales proposals, a complete bill of materials. Today it’s common for software to be cloud-based, and many come with a free trial period. Several enable seamless integration with popular design tools such as CAD and Energy Toolbase. The following is a list of eight PV Design solutions:
Aurora from Aurora Solar is a platform for residential and commercial solar sales and engineering design. Aurora has a proprietary module-level performance simulation engine, which allows users to precisely calculate the energy output of your solar design. Aurora’s features include automatic NEC system design validation, BOS components, LIDAR data, bankable shade reports and comprehensive financial analysis. Aurora’s database contains thousands of modules and inverters.
BlueSol is Microsoft Windows-based software that lets you design PV systems in any country. It takes you through the process from design, to assessment of production to project documentation. It lets you import planimetry background as a DXF, DWG or image, and it provides a 3D visualization of the electrical layout. BlueSol comes in two versions: BlueSol Express and the more advanced BlueSol Design.
Helioscope lets you evaluate alternatives for PV design including tilt, azimuth and GCR. It also generates complete solar proposals to assist with sales. Being a cloud-based system, you can collaborate with sub-contractors, manufacturers and others. Recently Energy Toolbase, solar financial analysis software, announced that it integrates with Helioscope, so PV designed can be imported. See “Energy Toolbase Integrates with PV Design Platform HelioScope”.
HOMER was originally developed at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and licensed to HOMER Energy LLC in 2009.HOMER stands for Hybrid Optimization of Multiple Energy Resources).The latest version is Homer Pro, a complete rebuild of HOMER software for economic optimization of microgrids.
PVComplete is a software platform that lets developers, installers and engineers work together on one platform. Salespeople can start the process by using PVSketch. Then they transfer the sketch to PVComplete and then to PVCAD for producing an engineering plan. See “PVComplete Introduces PVCAD for Solar Design”.
PV*SOL 2017 is recently updated so that designers of photovoltaic plants can include new features such as the ability to take electric cars into consideration when calculating energy consumption. Valentin Software has integrated additional electricity tariff models. It enables the calculation of the P90 value, which an important value for investors because it states that there is a 90% probability that the simulated average annual energy yield will be exceeded. Valentin Software also has a program for designing solar thermal systems. See “Valentin Software Introduces New Version of T*Sol”.
PVsyst software is made for PV system designers to predict the performance of different system configurations, evaluate the results and identify the best approach for energy production. The production reports are also used by project owners and financiers to estimate project revenues from energy generation. The latest version, PVsyst 6.43, allows users to model the performance benefits of Ampt String Optimizers in large-scale PV systems. The inclusion of Ampt String Optimizers in PVsyst's software update makes it easier for users to simulate the performance advantage of using Ampt in their solar power plants. See “Tigo TS4 Now Available on PVsyst Modeling Software”.
SAM is a computer model that calculates performance and financial metrics of renewable energy systems. SAM stands for System Advisor Model and it was developed by the US Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). SAM collaborates with Sandia Labs for the photovoltaic models and has collaborate d with the University of Wisconsin’s Solar Energy Laboratory for the concentrating solar power models. SAM was initially released in 2007 and is now up to Version 2014.1.14, released in 2014. NREL provides both SM and the software development kit as a free download at http://sam.nrel.gov.