Tracker configuration, the key to reducing solar LCOE

FuturENERGY February-March 2021

La configuración del seguidor, clave para reducir el LCOE solar

The challenges facing the solar industry involve optimising resources to reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). As a result, solar tracker selection and its suitability to the specific conditions of each site take centre stage in project development. In this article, Álvaro Achaerandio, Business Development Director at STI Norland, explains how an optimal solar tracker configuration is key for reducing the solar LCOE.

Solar tracker evolution

The early stages of decentralised trackers have been dominated by two reference configurations: 1P trackers, typically comprised of 90 modules per row in a vertical position and, in topographical terms, requiring mostly flat terrains; and 2P trackers, (two panels in a vertical configuration), with two 45-module rows, which need less foundations given that they are shorter and adapt well to the terrain. Despite these initial advantages, which mostly favour the construction phase and are valued by EPCs, this configuration has been affected by wind-related events with a significant impact on the solar LCOE.

Solar tracker development aims to reduce the weight of electronics in the largest possible number of PV modules. Both configurations, 1Px90 and 2Px45, are limited by the growing number of modules per tracker, because at a certain size (sail surface), limitations start to become more evident.

Dual-row trackers, launched into the marketplace by the manufacturer STI Norland, sit halfway between these configurations. As they retain the advantages of the 1P configuration, up to 120 modules can be installed, distributed in two rows in areas of only 60 metres (N-S). Dual-row trackers have a motor row coupled to a sister row by a rod mechanism. These key differences enable an enhanced distribution of actuator and electronic costs among a larger number of modules, thereby reducing the cost of the energy.

By Álvaro Achaerandio. Business Development Director at STI Norland