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Got Solar - USA Open PV Database Wants You

Credits: ©2009 NREL

The Open PV Project is a community-driven database, fostered by the National renewable Energy Laboratory, of photovoltaic (PV) installations around the US. The goal of this project is to collect, organize and distribute knowledge of the location, size, cost and date of every PV installation in United States. So far, you can see a very cool animation on a US map that shows all the logged PV systems installed since 1998. The project is actively seeking contributions to add to the database. You can sign up to become an Open PV Project member and start contributing your data at the website http://openpv.nrel.gov. The Open PV Mapping Project relies on user contributions. The nature of this project encourages all types of uploads whether large data sets from major incentive programs, or a single install by a public user. The addition of your data will help achieve NREL’s goal of a comprehensive database and improve the integrity of this project. The Open PV team is currently working on developing different mechanisms for downloading the project's data. Please be aware that the data are rapidly changing, so if you need up-to-date information be sure to check back often to get the most up-to-date information.


Open PV Mapping Project Screen Capture (USA)

All data in the Open PV database can be explored on both spatial and temporal scales. This means that data vary across space and time, allowing statistics to be derived across the intersection of both. For example, the total number of PV installation in California can be viewed at the State, County, or Zipcode level for the year 1998 to 2009. ©2009 NREL

What is the Open PV Project?
The Open PV Mapping Project is a collaborative effort between government, industry, and the public that will develop a comprehensive database of photovoltaic (PV) installation data for the United States.

Who is this project meant for?
This project is meant for anyone interested in US PV market trends. It is our hope that both public users, PV installers, and utilities will find 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 will be used to provide a web-based resource for users to easily explore and understand the current and past trends of the US PV industry. The Open Additionally, users may add their own PV installation data, browse PV data entered by others, and view statistics. Moving forward, NREL will add additional data and use this information to drive further analysis of market growth.

Data Collection
The Open PV Project is collecting data from any source 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 or public 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) followed by public users who have the lowest default score. 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.

Data validation occurs on each record in the database on a regular basis. The database is continually analyzed for outliers and other forms of corrupt data (such as an abnormal cost/watt value). Records found to contain data that is under question are flagged and are dealt with on a case by cae basis by a member of the Open PV team.

Understanding duplication is one of the ways that individual records are validated. As data entries are received they are considered to be unique records. Every night each new record is compared to every other record in the database, searching for duplicate entries. If the record is found to be a duplicate then the entry is added to a list of other duplicate PV 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 that installation.

Data Fields

Required Fields
The Open PV Project is designed to be able to store nearly type of information 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 in the project database. These four fields are:

• Date Installed (Completion date or interconnection date)• Size/Capacity of the PV Installation (DC kW)• Installation Location (Zipcode or Street Address)

• Total Installed Cost ($ - after incentives)

From these four fields the project can derive a several statistics about how the US PV market has changed and is changing. However, the design of the Open PV database is capable of storing nearly any type of data associated with a PV installation.

Additional Fields
The four required fields listed above provide the base amount of information needed for the project to meets its main goals. However, any record in the Open PV database can store any type of information. 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. Other ideas for useful information that could be attached to data are photos of the PV panels, data on module or inverter types, and detailed financing information. Really, any information is helpful. Currently the Open PV team is working on making it easier to add various amounts of info to data in the database.


Open PV Mapping Project (USA)