12 Reasons Why the Solar Industry is Turning to Tracking
A solar tracker is essentially a mechanical device that enables a “payload” to follow the sun’s movements across the sky. Payloads can be solar panels (photovoltaic panels), reflectors, lenses, or other optical devices. The vast number of benefits for having solar payloads orient with the sun are causing the solar industry to continue to shift toward solar tracking versus static, immobile payload devices. Here are 12 reasons why the solar industry is turning to tracking:
- By 2020, 33% of all utility power generation in the state of California must come from renewable sources. Hydro and wind are nearly tapped out, leaving solar as a huge growth market.
- Tracking adds an additional 20% to solar power output, while only adding 5% to the cost. No emerging market strives to be less efficient over time; it’s a no-brainer.
- Utilizing a tracker to point at the sun in the late afternoon maximizes solar power when utilities need it most. This timeframe is when power companies are in high demand.
- Primary solar markets are moving away from areas of scattered light, like northern Europe, where tracking doesn’t allow for a significant power increase. Instead, they are moving to sunny marketplaces where trackers can yield an increase of 20% or more. Over three-quarters of the primary and emerging solar markets today are in sunny places such as the United States, South Africa, Chile, India, Australia, etc.
- Power Purchase Agreement prices lower over time, which demands you get more power out of your solar plant to pay for the installation costs. In turn, this demands higher efficiencies found in tracking systems over fixed racks.
- Traditional racking only companies are looking at tracking because almost all new projects are being quoted with a tracking element.
- Tracking costs are decreasing, making them more affordable.
- The cheap land and easy space has largely been used. Now as the market moves into higher upfront project costs: (1) the tracking component starts to look relatively small and (2) you need the tracking systems to produce more power over time to pay for those fixed costs.
- The published data trends clearly show tracking has been gaining a larger marketplace share over the history of the solar marketplace.
- Trade shows’ talk and activity are around moving away from fixed and dual axis PV and into single axis tracking.
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