Simplicity in Solar: Tracking Options Made Easy
Fixed Tilt Solar Solutions
Fixed tilt, or Non-tracking systems have long since been around and have until recently been the standard installation choice for developers and EPCs alike. Many adopted this choice due to the cost difference in tracking solutions vs. fixed tilt solutions and the profitability of the installation consequently. Fixed tilt systems offer some installation advantages, as they can be used in more difficult/ challenging terrain. Historically, fixed tilt systems are also more adaptable to harsher environments due to lack of moving parts.
Solar Tracking Solutions
Tracking solutions for solar energy collection started to be introduced since the inception of solar, but much like other areas of alternative energy production, the technology was highly expensive and sometimes unreliable. In comparison to the fixed axis solutions, tracking will produce up to 20%-45% more energy than its non-tracked counterparts, while now finally making sense financially due to cost reductions and rising adoption rates of the technology. Tracked solutions also offer a reduction in D/C capacity which allows for a reduction in BOS, Modules, and additional racking, getting better performance than their fixed counterparts. In a late 2016 report, GTM Research estimates that tracking solutions will grow from roughly 20% this year to nearly 50% by 2021. Tracking solutions continue to evolve as well into two sub categories:
Single Axis Tracking
As the name implies, this is a tracking solution with a single hinged axis to track the sun East to West. This option requires a North-South alignment to maximize the sun’s energy throughout the day. Compared to a fixed tilt system, there have been various increases shown ranging from 17-23% depending on the latitude and irradiance of the system.
Dual Axis Tracking
Though Dual Axis tracking has been around essentially as long as its Single Axis relative, it has been often overlooked as the most valuable of options when dealing with utility grade projects. The Alamo Projects in Texas are a great example of this, as there are over 40,000 Dual Axis Trackers in operation today. This large-scale adoption has led to expansive growth in this market as well, with suited applications in more diverse weather conditions.
Fixed tilt and Tracking solutions will both have a place in solar energy generation in the future. As the technology advances and performance increases, tracking solutions will become the standard for solar energy generation due to higher efficiency and a justifiable cost increase.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our second installment of Simplicity in Solar. If you have any further questions, please feel free to CONTACT US today for more information on our Solar Energy Tracking Solutions.