By Doug Broach, TrinaPro Business Development Manager
Improving power gains is one of the best ways to generate a better return on investment for utility-scale solar installations. One way to achieve this goal is by installing solar trackers to increase system output.
Tracking systems are nothing new for utility-scale PV systems. The 2019 Edition of Berkeley Labs’ “Utility-Scale Solar” report found that 70 percent of all new utility-scale PV capacity added in 2018 utilized single-axis trackers. With solar trackers nearing a saturation point for utility solar, EPCs and project developers need to find innovative new ways to continue boosting a PV system’s efficiency and output.
Beyond the immediate benefits of trackers, bundling together PV modules and inverters with trackers is one way project stakeholders can further generate better ROI for utility-solar installations.
Let’s take a look at what this means.
The single-axis tracker allows for the module to follow the sun as it moves east to west throughout the day. This can significantly boost energy production for utility-scale solar installations. In fact, trackers are considered such a value, banks and investors increasingly prefer projects that include single-axis tracking systems in order to better achieve PPA targets.
However, if the tracker isn’t optimized to function within the overall PV system, it can limit energy gain potential and lead to subpar performance. For instance, unaccounted for wind speeds can exceed design conditions, and cause a loss of communication and other fault conditions. Further, not all tracker structures have the right adjustment points allowing them to adapt to varying terrains.
Integrating tracking into utility solar solutions for optimal power gains
Partnering with a smart utility solar solution provider can boost the project’s chances of success.
For instance, the TrinaPro Solution bundles together three core components: high-quality PV modules, inverters and a tracker.
Optimized system integration must include the right tracker alignment and pattern for a utility-scale PV system, and also must account for a host of variables. This means that before the TrinaPro team recommends a single component, they expertly evaluate the site, and design the system to ensure optimal integration and interoperability. This allows them to account for the site’s terrain, local climate and yearly solar irradiance potential. With this information accounted for in the design, the trackers can follow the sun more precisely and modules can harvest more sunlight to improve power gains.
As the utility solar sector continues its meteoric growth, potential site availability will require more creative solutions to meet site-specific requirements. This includes accounting for steep slopes, high corrosivity conditions, challenging ground conditions or local design standards. This will make optimized site design and layout all the more important in situations where space is limited and the number of PV modules is capped.
Through this optimized component matching, TrinaPro can increase power generation by up to 30 percent versus fixed-tilt installations and up to 3 percent versus non-integrated tracker systems.
TrinaPro also provides projects with software function integration, consolidated services and intelligent operation and maintenance (O&M) features to ensure the system performance remains optimal.
Want to learn more about how bundling together PV modules, trackers and inverters can boost utility-scale power gains? Click here for a complimentary TrinaPro Solution Guide Book.
This the fourth installment of a four-part series on utility-scale solar projects. Thanks for following along and be sure to check out the previous installments if you’ve missed them.
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