PV Tracker Trends – Exterior/Interior Row Design

November 30, 2017- The global renewable energy market place is growing at an unprecedented pace, however there is enormous price pressure on PV plant builders due to low energy prices – recent auctions in South America have seen energy contracts under US$0.02/kWh, well below fossil fuel energy costs.

Utility-scale Photo-Voltaic (PV) tracker power plants have traditionally been built with the same tracker mechanism used throughout the plant. PV tracker structures are sized based almost entirely on imposed wind loads, thus the design wind load is the main cost driver for a tracker. In a large PV tracker field, the exterior rows of the array provide a natural wind shielding effect to the interior rows, meaningfully lowering the wind loads the interior trackers are exposed to.

Increasingly, PV tracker manufacturers are moving to different tracker designs for exterior rows vs. interior rows – interior row tracker structures, piles and foundations can all use less material, and the actuation components can be downsized for the lower torque requirements of interior rows. The ratio of interior to exterior rows in a typical plant might be as high as 80:20, meaning that 80% of the tracker plant can use the lighter, lower-cost interior row tracker design. With this approach, the cost of a PV tracker plant can be reduced significantly, improving economics all around.

Kinematics is the leading supplier of drives to the global PV tracker market, with over 10GW actuated today. We offer the widest range of patented solar drives, providing torque requirements suitable for all types of PV trackers, including tracker designs optimized for exterior and interior row wind loads. Kinematics’ team collectively has decades of PV tracker and solar slew drive experience, and is ready to assist you in optimizing your tracker design and actuation for best-in class cost/performance.