Array Technologies Applies Lessons from the Wind Industry to the Solar Sector

solar-(cut-1)Array Technologies Inc. (ATI) has been a market leader in solar tracking systems for a few decades now, providing solar solutions for utility, commercial and residential electric generation customers. Since 1989, the company has supplied nearly 3 GW of tracking systems across the globe in 250 utility and commercial projects in 20 countries and all 50 states.

Solar Builder recently had the opportunity to speak with Thomas Conroy, new president of ATI, to focus in on a few main areas of improvement at ATI over the last few years. First on the agenda is providing the lowest levelized cost of energy, which ATI accomplishes through innovative mechanical designs such as the latest version of its tracker product, DuraTrack HZ v3. The ATI v3 product eliminates all scheduled maintenance and continues the company’s design philosophy to not require active stow.

“There is a large systems improvement when the controls and UPS backup required for active stow solutions are removed all together,” Conroy says.

Reducing installation costs is another primary focus area for Array. An example of a cost-reduction strategy that leads Conroy to believe Array is best-in-class for its customers was reducing the number of bolts needed to install and tighten to less than half the quantity of its competitors. Conroy is proud of Array’s history and track record of never causing a missed shipment or COD date for its customers and running at an operational level of almost five 9s for reliability in the field. Array’s installed base history is valuable to finance companies and owners who are seeking low-risk, reliable generation assets that will last more than 30 years, allowing financing costs for its products to be reduced.

“When we’re under the gun or operating with compressed schedules, we’re often able to support finishing withshortened timeframes,” Conroy says. “We deliver optimized component kits that contain the right amount of parts adjacent to where they will be used, minimizing the need to move a lot of materials around a jobsite. The combination of our logistics planning and our kitting functionality has proven to significantly reduce installation costs for large projects.”

But that’s not all. Conroy brought a few ideas he learned from the wind industry to the table, making Array Technologies even more in touch with eco-friendly power choices.

LCOE Is Key

Conroy has a deep history with generating power for the last 30 years. His early career fossil fuel plant startups included an 800-MW crude oil-fired unit and the first coal-fired plant in the Dominican Republic. He also worked six years in the wind industry, where he led the effort to successfully commercialize a new wind tower that reduces wind’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) by up to 12 percent. He also worked a few years in solar before coming to Array. Over the decades, he observed that although the electricity generation equipment is highly differentiated, the electricity generated by the assets is a nondifferentiated commodity.

— Solar Builder magazine

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