Department - Author 1

Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Industrial Engineering



Primary Advisor

Lizabeth Schlemer


This project will analyze raw photovoltaic (PV) solar panel performance data in order to determine a reliability factor for solar panels in San Luis Obispo. This project is a subset of a larger project being performed by SLO RESCO, which is funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission. Their project will explore the use of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass renewable resources. The scope of this project is limited to a small section of RESCO's analysis of solar panel technology and implementation in which a reliability factor will be generated.

The objective is to determine a reliability factor for solar panels for each month of the year while creating an Excel tool to assist with the calculations and organization of information. The analysis of this report involved obtaining one year's worth of PV performance data, manipulating and interpreting an entire year's worth of PV performance data, designing and generating an Excel tool to perform the calculations, and finally making conclusions and recommendations. In order to perform the analysis many variables had to be defined, as well as ways to interpret the results such that the desired outputs could be obtained.

From the data and results San Luis Obispo had a capacity factor of 80.94% from May 2009 through April 2010. The reliability was significantly higher in the summer months as compared to winter. The next step for the solar industry should be to develop a more representative capacity factor that is based on the number of hours the sun is out (usually 10-14 hrs) rather than a 24 hour period. This value could generate a lot of interest in the solar industry and eventually could help change people's views and impressions as well.