Changing System Parameters  
DC Rating (0.5 to 1000 kW)  
The size of the PV system is the nameplate DC power rating. This is determined by summing
the PV module powers listed on the nameplates on the backsides of the PV modules in units
of watts and then dividing by 1000 to convert to kilowatts (kW). The PV module power
ratings are for Standard Test Conditions (STC) of
1000 W/m^{2} solar irradiance and
25^{o}C PV
module temperature. The default PV system size is 4 kW. This corresponds to a PV array
area of approximately 35 m^{2}
(377 ft^{2}).
Caution: To achieve proper results, the DC rating input must be the nameplate DC power rating as described above, and not based on other rating conditions, such as PVUSA Test Conditions (PTC). PTC are defined as 1000 W/m^{2} planeofarray irradiance, 20^{o}C ambient temperature, and 1 m/s wind speed. PTC differs from standard test conditions (STC) in that its test conditions of ambient temperature and wind speed will result in a PV module temperature of about 50^{o}C, instead of the 25^{o}C for STC. Consequently, for crystalline silicon PV systems with a power degradation due to temperature of 0.5% per degree C, the PV module PTC power rating is about 88% of the PV module nameplate rating. If a user incorrectly uses a DC rating based on PTC power ratings, the energy production calculated by PVWATTS will be reduced by about 12% from the proper calculation. In essence, the effects of temperature will have been erroneously compensated for twice, first with the use of the PTC rating, and again as PVWATTS performs hourbyhour calculations of PV module temperatures and applies temperature corrections from STC to the hourly PV energy values. 

DC to AC Derate Factor  
PVWATTS multiplies the nameplate DC power rating by an overall DC to AC derate factor to
determine the AC power rating at STC. The overall DC to AC derate factor accounts for
losses from the DC nameplate power rating and is the mathematical product of the derate
factors for the components of the PV system. A list of the default component derate factors
used by PVWATTS and the ranges that might be encountered in practice are listed in the table.
= 0.95 x 0.92 x 0.98 x 0.995 x 0.98 x 0.99 x 0.95 x 0.98 x 1.00 x 1.00 x 1.00 = 0.77
The derate factor for the PV module nameplate DC rating accounts for the accuracy of the manufacturer's nameplate rating. Field measurements of a representative sample of PV modules may show that the PV module powers are different than the nameplate rating or that they experienced lightinduced degradation upon exposure (even crystalline silicon PV modules typically lose 2% of their initial power before power stabilizes after the first few hours of exposure to sunlight). A derate factor of 0.95 represents that testing yielded power measurements at STC that were 5% less than the manufacturer's nameplate rating. The derate factor for the inverter and transformer is their combined efficiency in converting DC power to AC power. A list of inverter efficiencies by manufacturer is at http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/equipment/inverter.php. These inverter efficiencies include transformer related losses when a transformer is used or required by the manufacturer. The derate factor for PV module mismatch accounts for manufacturing tolerances that yield PV modules with slightly different currentvoltage characteristics. Consequently, when connected together electrically they do not operate at their respective peak efficiencies. The default value of 0.98 represents a loss of 2% due to mismatch. The derate factor for diodes and connections accounts for losses from voltage drops across diodes used to block the reverse flow of current and from resistive losses in electrical connections. The derate factor for DC wiring accounts for resistive losses in the wiring between modules and the wiring connecting the PV array to the inverter. The derate factor for AC wiring accounts for resistive losses in the wiring between the inverter and the connection to the local utility service. The derate factor for soiling accounts for dirt, snow, or other foreign matter on the front surface of the PV module that reduces the amount of solar radiation reaching the solar cells of the PV module. Dirt accumulation on the PV module surface is location and weather dependent, with greater soiling losses (up to 25% for some California locations) for hightrafffic, highpollution areas with infrequent rain. For northern locations in winter, snow will reduce the amount of energy produced, with the severity of the reduction a function of the amount of snow received and how long it remains on the PV modules. Snow remains the longest when subfreezing temperatures prevail, small PV array tilt angles prevent snow from sliding off, the PV array is closely integrated into the roof, and the roof or other structure in the vicinity facilitates snow drifting onto the PV modules. For a roofmounted PV system in Minnesota with a tilt angle of 23^{o}, snow was observed to reduce the energy production during the winter by 70%; a nearby roofmounted PV system with a tilt angle of 40^{o} experienced a 40% reduction. The derate factor for system availability accounts for times when the system is off due to maintenance and inverter and utility outages. The default value of 0.98 represents the system being off for 2% of the year. The derate factor for shading accounts for situations when PV modules are shaded by nearby buildings, objects, or other PV modules and array structure. For the default value of 1.00, PVWATTS assumes the PV modules are not shaded. Tools such as Solar Pathfinder may be used to determine a derate factor for shading by buildings and objects. For PV arrays consisting of multiple rows of PV modules and array structure, the shading derate factor should be changed to account for losses occurring when one row shades an adjacent row. The figure below shows the shading derate factor as a function of the type of PV array (fixed or tracking); the Ground Cover Ratio (GCR), defined as the ratio of the PV array area to the total ground area; and the tilt angle for fixed PV arrays. As shown in the figure, spacing the rows further apart (smaller GCR) corresponds to a larger derate factor (smaller shading loss). For fixed PV arrays, if the tilt angle is decreased the rows may be spaced closer together (larger GCR) to achieve the same shading derate factor. For the same value of shading derate factor, land area requirements are greatest for 2axis tracking, as indicated by its relatively low GCR values when compared with those for fixed or 1axis tracking. If you know the GCR value for your PV array, the figure may be used to estimate the appropriate shading derate factor. Industry practice is to optimize the use of space by configuring the PV system for a GCR corresponding to a shading derate factor of 0.975 (2.5% loss).
Shading Derate Factor for MultipleRow PV Arrays as a Function of PV Array Type and Ground Cover Ratio
The derate factor for age accounts for losses in performance over time due primarily to weathering of the PV modules. The loss in performance is typically 1% per year. For the default value of 1.00, PVWATTS assumes that the PV system is in its 1st year of operation. For the 11th year of operation, a derate factor of 0.90 would be appropriate. Because the PVWATTS overall DC to AC derate factor is determined for STC, a component derate factor for temperature is not part of its determination. Power corrections for PV module operating temperature are performed for each hour of the year as PVWATTS reads the meteorological data for the location and computes the performance. A power correction of 0.5% per ^{o}C for crystalline silicon PV modules is used. 

Fixed or tracking array  
The PV array may either be fixed, suntracking with one axis of rotation, or suntracking with two axes of rotation. The default value is a fixed PV array.  


PV array tilt angle (0° to 90°)  
For a fixed PV array, the tilt angle is the angle from horizontal of the
inclination of the PV array (0° = horizontal, 90° = vertical). For a
suntracking PV array with one axis of rotation, the tilt angle is the angle
from horizontal of the inclination of the tracker axis. The tilt angle is not
applicable for suntracking PV arrays with two axes of rotation.
The default value is a tilt angle equal to the station's latitude. This normally maximizes annual energy production. Increasing the tilt angle favors energy production in the winter, while decreasing the tilt angle favors energy production in the summer. For roofmounted PV arrays, the table below gives tilt angles for various roof pitches (ratio of vertical rise to horizontal run).


PV array azimuth angle (0° to 360°)  
For a fixed PV array, the azimuth angle is the angle clockwise from true north of
the direction that the PV array faces. For a suntracking PV array with one axis of rotation,
the azimuth angle is
the angle clockwise from true north of the direction of the axis of rotation. The azimuth angle
is not applicable for suntracking PV arrays with two axes of rotation.
The default value is an azimuth angle of 180° (southfacing) for locations in the northern hemisphere, and 0° (northfacing) for locations in the southern hemisphere. This normally maximizes energy production. For the northern hemisphere, increasing the azimuth angle favors afternoon energy production, while decreasing the azimuth angle favors morning energy production. The opposite is true for the southern hemisphere. The table below provides azimuth angles for various headings.


Electricity cost  
Version 1: For the U.S. and its Territories, the default value is the average 2004 residential
electric rate for the state where the station is located. Source: Energy Information Administration.
For locations in regions outside the U.S., the default value is the average 2004 or 2005 residential
electric rate for the country where the station is located. Sources: IEA Electricity Information 2005;
IEA Energy Prices & Taxes, 4th Quarter 2005; and Eurostat Gas and Electricity Market Statistics 2005.
For some countries, no electric cost information is available and the default values are set to zero.
For these countries, the user should enter a value based on their knowledge. Electric costs are presented
in the country's currency. To convert results to another currency, the user may go to
http://www.oanda.com/converter/classic.
Version 2: Default value is the average 2004 residential electric rate for the cell chosen by the user. Note that some areas are not covered by any utility provider. For these areas the electric rate for the nearest utlity service area is used. Source: Resource Data International. 

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