NEXTracker, a Flex company, launched TrueCapture, a first-of-its-kind intelligent, self-adjusting tracker control system for solar power plants. TrueCapture’s technology continuously refines the tracking algorithm of each individual solar array in response to existing site and weather conditions. Typically delivering 2-6% energy gains, TrueCapture enables system owners and developers to maximize solar system performance and enhance profits for solar power facilities.
Solar power plants suffer energy production losses from construction variability, terrain undulation and changing weather. TrueCapture is the first tracker solution to simultaneously solve these factors, leveraging forecast-based tracking behavior algorithms for clouds, fog or haze and row-to-row (R2R) hybrid closed-loop self-learning that course corrects the panel direction to minimize production loss due to shading and clouds. Wireless self-powered controllers on the tracker sync with the smart panels and the NEXTracker SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, connected through Flex’s IoT platform, a secure, NERC-CIP compliant, industrial-strength connected intelligence platform. From the Flex IoT platform, communication is continually dispatched to control each independent row.
“TrueCapture is our biggest innovation since we introduced independent row, self-powered tracking,” said Dan Shugar, CEO at NEXTracker. “For the first time, advanced machine learning is being applied to unlock the true potential of power plant performance. We are taking a technology that has been around for over two decades and infusing it with intelligence to meet the needs of a new data-driven world.”
”If any company can incorporate as-built site conditions and machine learning into its system design, it’s NEXTracker,” said Clenera CEO Jason Ellsworth. “The Company continues to push our industry forward with new ways to improve system performance.”
Backtracking, first introduced in 1991, offered a significant improvement in PV plant energy yield. It was optimized for flat arrays and low diffuse conditions. TrueCapture advances these yield gains by incorporating individual row tracking for real world conditions that have hilly terrain and partly cloudy or fully diffuse conditions.
With TrueCapture, proprietary smart panel sensors provide real-time shading information on each tracker row. The data is integrated with design parameters and processed by machine-learning software to build a virtual 3D model of the job site. An intelligent control engine combines the model with the latest meteorological forecast data to calculate and send updated and optimized tracking commands to every independent row. As a result, energy production gets a significant boost. With more production, solar power plants are worth more, adding value for project developers and the long-term owners who will typically operate a facility for up to 30 years.
News item from NEXTracker