Tracking architecture and reliability with a focus on Latin America

The use of solar trackers in utility-scale PV projects is growing rapidly around the world. According to the GTM Research report “Global Solar PV Tracker Market Shares and Shipments 2018”, tracker shipments grew by 44% globally in 2017. GTM also found that Latin American countries were the largest markets for solar trackers, followed by the US. Indeed, GTM expects 80-90% of all utility-scale PV projects deployed in Latin America this year to use tracker systems. Independent consultancy TÜV Rheinland PTL has recently published a report, commissioned by solar tracker manufacturer Array Technologies, on the economic and risk analysis of the two main tracker architectures (centralised and decentralised). This article sets out the main conclusions of this report, and their significance for Latin America due to the extensive range of climatic challenges facing trackers in this region.

It has been proven that solar trackers increase the utility-scale production of PV energy. Moreover, the economic benefits of using a solar tracking system is greater in areas of high irradiation, which correspond to rapidly growing PV markets, such as Latin America, the MENA and APAC regions, where solar trackers are increasing their market share in large plants over fixed tilt mounting systems.

While a variety of solar trackers are available, two predominate: centrally driven architecture (centralised) and individual row driven architecture (decentralised). A centralised architecture involves a system driven by a single motor linked by a rotating driveline to multiple tracker rows. In a decentralised architecture, each row operates as a self-contained unit.
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Article published in: FuturENERGY May 2018