Accessibility links

System Advisor Model (SAM)

The System Advisor Model (SAM) is a performance and financial model designed to facilitate decision making for people involved in the renewable energy industry, ranging from project managers and engineers to incentive program designers, technology developers, and researchers. SAM makes performance predictions for grid-connected solar PV, concentrating solar power, wind, biomass and geothermal power systems. Its cash flow models are appropriate for distributed energy projects that buy and sell electricity at retail rates, and for power generation projects that sell power at a price negotiated through a power purchase agreement. The model calculates the cost of generating electricity based on information you provide about a project’s location, installation and operating costs, type of financing, applicable tax credits and incentives, and system specifications. SAM also calculates the value of saved energy from a domestic solar water heating system.

The System Advisor Model is software available for free download.


SAM models a range of renewable energy technologies for electricity generation, including photovoltaic systems, solar thermal troughs, power towers, and dish-Stirling systems.

Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), SAM also includes models for wind, biomass, and geothermal systems, and a simple thermal power plant model for comparing renewable energy projects with conventional power projects. SAM uses an hourly performance model to estimate a power system’s total annual output, and a cost and financial model to calculate a project cash flow. SAM reports performance and financial metrics in tables and graphs, which can be exported for use in reports or for further analysis in other models.

Download SAM here: System Advisor Model.

For more information, visit the SAM website.