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System Advisor Model (SAM)

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System Advisor Model (SAM)

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The SAM Open Source Project repository contains the source code, tools, and instructions to build a desktop version of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's System Advisor Model (SAM). SAM is a simulation program for electricity generation projects. It has models for different kinds of renewable energy systems and financial models for residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects. For more details about SAM's capabilities, see the SAM website at

For a short video describing the SAM repositories, see

The SAM release notes are in

The desktop version of SAM for Windows, Mac, or Linux builds from the following open source projects:

  • SSC is a set of "compute modules" that simulate different kinds of power systems and financial structures. It can be run directly using the SAM Software Development Kit. If you are looking for the algorithms underlying the models, they are located in this repository.

  • LK is a scripting language that is integrated into SAM and allows users to add functionality to the program.

  • wxWidgets is a cross-platform graphical user interface platform used for SAM's user interface, and for the development tools included with SSC (SDKtool) and LK (LKscript). The current version of SAM uses wxWidgets 3.1.1.

  • WEX is a set of extensions to wxWidgets for custom user-interface elements used by SAM, and by LKscript and DView, which are integrated into SAM.

  • Google Test is a C++ test framework that enables comprehensive unit-testing of software. Contributions to the project will eventually be required to have associated unit tests written in this framework.

  • jsoncpp is a C++ library that allows manipulating JSON values, including serialization and deserialization to and from strings.

  • Python/Miniconda Necessary additional information is included in the install directory.

  • This repository, SAM, provides the user interface to assign values to inputs of the SSC compute modules, run the modules in the correct order, and display simulation results. It also includes tools for editing LK scripts, viewing time series results, and generating shade data from a 3-dimensional representation of a photovoltaic array or solar hot water collector and nearby shading objects.

We also include two Sandia libraries, stepwise, and LHS, which are distributed as part of the Dakota platform, licensed under LGPL. These libraries may be found here.

Quick Steps for Building SAM

For detailed build instructions see the wiki, with specific instructions for:

These are the general quick steps you need to follow to set up your computer for developing SAM:

  1. Set up your development tools:
* Windows: Visual Studio 2017 Community or other editions available at
* Mac: Apple Command Line Tools, available at (requires Apple ID and password).
* Linux: g++ compiler available at []( or installed via your Linux distribution.
  1. Download the wxWidgets 3.1.1 source code for your operating system from

  2. Build wxWidgets.

  3. In Windows, create the WXMSW3 environment variable on your computer to point to the wxWidgets installation folder, or in MacOS and Linux, create the dynamic link

    to point to
  4. As you did for wxWidgets, for each of the following projects, clone (download) the repository, build the project, and then (Windows only) create an environment variable pointing to the project folder. Build the projects in the following order, and assign the environment variable for each project before you build the next one:

Project Repository URL Windows Environment Variable
Google Test GTEST


If you would like to report an issue with SAM or make a feature request, please let us know by adding a new issue on the issues page.

If you would like to submit code to fix an issue or add a feature, you can use GitHub to do so. Please see Contributing for instructions.


SAM's open source code is copyrighted by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy and licensed with BSD-3-Clause terms, found here.

SAM also includes two LGPL licensed libraries from Sandia National Laboratory. These Fortran libraries have been pre-compiled and included as binaries here. To swap in a new version of these libraries, you may compile them as binary/executables and copy them into the respective folder.

Citing this package

System Advisor Model Version 2020.2.29 (2020.2.29). SAM source code. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Golden, CO. Accessed May 27, 2020.

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