Some of the main issues found by energy developers include achieving greater project cost-effectiveness and forming a stable relationship with trustworthy suppliers. With this in mind, Soltec, Europe’s leading solar tracker manufacturer, has developed the SF7, a PV tracker that has broken barriers in terms of profitability. In fact, anyone who has followed Soltec’s trajectory will have seen how profitability is one of the main innovation criteria of this company.
With 14 years of experience in the development of PV energy and around 35 patents worldwide, Soltec designed its first solar tracker in 2007. Since then, the company has continued to invest in technological innovation, launching its SF7 in summer 2017. The SF7 follows on from its big brother, SF Utility, with a higher yield per hectare and even lower material and installation labour costs given that it has fewer parts.
Looking at technical details, the SF7 is the only tracker with a steep-slope tolerance of up to 17% on a north-south gradient. By comparison, its main competitor can only withstand gradients of up to 10%. The SF7 mounting supports offer the most extensive range of assembly tolerances, perfect when constructing a solar plant on uneven terrain. And because the final cost is reduced, SF7 trackers are ideal for easy access sites.
The yield of the SF7 also increases by eliminating all the array gaps, completely covering the upper part of the tracker with PV modules. As a result, the gaps between the solar panels on the piles disappear, increasing yield by up to 5% more MW per hectare.
“Comparisons with our nearest competitor are inevitable. We have 46% fewer piles per MW, 15% less parts and 58% less screw connections, all of which adds up to a quicker installation. Time is also saved as the units are supplied from the Solhub, Soltec’s global factory stock logistics system. Site deliveries are combined into packages of trackers ready for distribution in the field with as little need as possible for manpower, so no intermediaries are required between our factories and the client’s plant“, comments José María Lozano, Head of Global Engineering at Soltec.
The direct consequence of a solar tracker with fewer piles is that it saves energy during installation. It also translates into less time for pile driving, lower carbon emissions and less earthworks.
SF7 is equipped with unique innovations such as the DC Harness linked to StringRunner. Such ingenious solutions to connect cables simplify the PV installation and reduce both materials and installation time. The tracker can also include the NFC system to read data and facilitate maintenance tasks via any mobile device.
“SF7 is the result of years of knowledge and experience in the PV sector. This has allowed us to understand our clients’ needs in addition to applying pioneering technologies to solar tracking”, affirms Raúl Morales, CEO of Soltec. “Achieving the development of a cutting-edge product is fundamental in a market such as solar power, so R&D becomes the lynch pin of any company looking to create a niche for itself in the renewable energy market”.
This explains how the company has gone from a turnover of around US$6 million in 2012 to over US$200m in 2017, transforming a local company into one of the world’s leading suppliers of solar equipment.
Throughout last year, Soltec has signed contracts to supply its PV equipment to solar plants spread over three continents. This has resulted in the company achieving a growth rate of over 200% in 2017.
“We firmly believe in the global nature of the PV market. This is why we are currently closing contracts for projects in Australia, Israel and other African countries, in addition to having opened offices in Argentina and India”, continues Morales, adding that “this internationalisation has enabled us to become a more efficient company, allowing us to create specialist teams around the world that work towards converting each of our projects into a success story“.
As a result, Soltec has positioned itself as the leading supplier in Brazil, Chile and Peru, continuing to gain market share in Mexico and the USA and expanding its market in other parts of the world, with new projects and subsidiaries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
With a production capacity of 2.5 GW per year, enabling the supply of more than 200 MW per month and over 750 workers around the world, Soltec has become the perfect partner to handle large solar power projects. This is endorsed by its over 3 GW in projects worldwide and its growth of 3,800% in the last five years, as the renewable energy company that has recorded the highest growth in Europe.
Soltec has thereby become an example of good corporate practice as well as a reference in solar power.