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How to create new projects and designs

An accurate design in just a few minutes? Let's see how to create one with pvDesign to optimize your PV plant!


pvDesign helps improve the process of design and development of utility-scale solar projects during the different phases of feasibility, conceptual and basic design, and request for proposal. The main advantages of pvDesign are the optimization of the design, the short time it takes, and the easy generation of many documents and drawings needed for requesting the proposal.

Before delving deeper into this topic, three main concepts from pvDesign must be defined:

  • Site: KML or KMZ file defined with Google Earth that will define the parcel where the PV plant is going to be built.
  • Project: folder or place where infinite sites can be uploaded within a radius of 5 km and infinite designs can be simulated in those sites.
  • Design: a set of inputs that define a PV plant. pvDesign recommends certain inputs, but the user can always adapt them to their own requirements. A design can be done from scratch or by taking inputs from another design and making specific changes.
How to create projects and designs

Defining a Site

Each project is defined by the first site that you upload to it. For more information on how to define a site, you can check the following article How to create a site. Remember that you can define as many sites and designs inside a project as you like.

Defining a project

In pvDesign, we understand a project as the place in which we can upload infinite sites as long as their center is within a radius of 5 km. This radius of 5 km is defined by the first site uploaded to the project.

Let's see an example, where different parcels will be evaluated for the same project. We first upload a site that will define the project. 

Infinite parcels can be uploaded to evaluate the same project.

However, if you upload a site that is located at a distance greater than 5 km from your first uploaded site, you will get an error. If you get an error like this one, do not hesitate to contact us at support@ratedpower.com. This limit is flexible, we will evaluate the case and increase this 5 km radius limit if the site belongs to that given project.

Creating a new design

pvDesign's "Start Design" screen consists of various tabs representing the natural process that is followed to define a PV plant. It is worth mentioning that at each step of the process, pvDesign will recommend optimal input values. This is done by taking into account the site details, the chosen inverter, the type of structure, and other parameters.

  1. Location: the first step is to define the site where the PV plant will be built. Once the site is uploaded, the topographical and meteorological data, the horizon profile, and the surface albedo are calculated by pvDesign. Custom topography and meteorological data files can also be uploaded, by following the How to upload your topography and How to upload your meteorological data to pvDesign articles. A custom monthly albedo data profile can also be manually defined inside the software.
  2. Civil: roads, power station dimensions, and structures' orientation are defined. We recommend you to visit our How to define the civil parameters of your site article.
  3. Equipment: here, you can select your PV module, inverter (central or string inverters), and structures (trackers or fixed structures) from pvDesign's extensive public database. It is also possible to include PV modules and inverters to a private database that can only be accessed by users from the same company, by following the How to upload your own equipment article. In case you need any additional structures, just write us an email at support@ratedpower.com.
  4. Gridpoint: here, the type of connection facility (Switching and Breaking Station or Substation) and grid connection requirements (Power factor) are defined. For more information on this, you can check How to design your substation and How does the Power Factor Tool in pvDesign work? articles.
  5. Electrical: here, you can define your electrical configuration. Cables can be sized by using the IEC, NEC standard, Australian or Chinese standard. The number of inverters per power station, the desired DC/AC ratio, the layout configuration, and the low voltage electrical configuration are also defined here. Different possibilities are available depending on previous inputs, which is explained in more detail in our How to define your electrical configuration article.
  6. Energy: PV module losses, inverter auxiliary losses and much more can be defined here. You can also edit some advanced parameters (U-factor and IAM loss model).
  7. Layout: A preview of the layout and the power installed is shown. It is possible to make changes in the design and see how that affects the layout and the power installed. A topography analysis tool is also available in this tab.
  8. Costs: this is the last step before creating the design. Here, you can create price templates that will be automatically used to calculate the CAPEX, LCOE, and the entries of the BOQ.

You can either start the design from scratch or create a new one by copying the inputs from a previously created design, by using the "Clone Design" feature.

Clone a design

Want to create a new iteration of a certain design while changing just a few parameters? Our "clone design" feature allows you to start a new design based on the inputs of an already created design. This can help you create as many iterations as you want and thus be able to compare different scenarios in a very quick and efficient way.


This article scratched the surface on the following points:

  • pvDesign accepts infinite sites and designs in the same project as long as their center is within a radius of 5 km.
  • A project in pvDesign is defined by the first site that is uploaded to that project.
  • The "Clone Design" functionality is an iterative tool that facilitates the modification of specific parameters to optimize a project

For any other questions or for more information regarding the creation of new projects and designs, you can contact us at the following email: support@ratedpower.com