Details on Soltec’s new solar tracker wind-load analysis method

Soltec tracker

Soltec, already dedicating itself to bifacial tracker research, now presents Dy-WIND, an innovative method for comprehensive dynamic analysis in tracker wind-design developed with engineering consultancy Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc (RWDI). Soltec decided to undertake this project after several studies have shown that certain wind-design code standards applied to solar trackers are insufficient for reliability because they do not consider the second order effects produced by the action of wind on the tracker.

Matthew T. L. Browne, Technical Director at RWDI, said: “the hybrid experimental-numerical approach developed through working with Soltec accurately estimates tracker behavior under the action of wind in multi-row arrays and allows flexibility in the design process that is generally not practical through full aeroelastic model testing.”

RWDI already has the expertise and wind tunnels that use stereolithography technology, integrated data acquisition, storage and processing systems, computer-aided drafting and a broad base of specialized instrumentation. Some of the most notable projects in which the firm has participated are the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai or the Messina Strait Bridge in Italy.

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— Solar Builder magazine

IHS Markit: 9 key stats from PV Structural Balance of System Report for North America

In its just-published PV Structural Balance of System (SBOS) Report for North America, IHS Markit forecasts the market at $8.3 billion from 2018 to 2022, to be driven by demand for single-axis trackers. The blended average pricing across all product segments (roof-top and ground-mount) is expected to fall from $0.13/W to $0.09/W during the period.

IHS Markit BOS

What happened in 2017?

• In 2017, more than 11 GW of PV racking and mounting products were delivered in North America, a decline of over 20 percent from 2016 due to lower demand for ground-mounted products.

• The competitive landscape for PV structural BoS in the United States experienced year-over-year consolidation in 2017, with the top ten suppliers accounting for 85 percent of shipments for the year. NEXTracker, RBI Solar, Array Technologies, SunLink, and IronRidge were the five largest suppliers and collectively accounted for over 60 percent of the market in 2017.

Market demand forecast

• The size of the PV structural BoS market in North America is forecast to surpass 74 GWdc from 2018 to 2022, with the ground-mounted segment accounting for 75% of demand.

• Demand for PV structural BoS products in the United States is forecast to peak from 2020 to 2021 before declining in 2022 due to the influence of the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

IHS Markit BOS 2

Single-axis tracker domination

• Single-axis trackers have remained the dominant PV mounting product type in the United States, accounting for 56% of the ground-mounted segment in 2017 and are forecast to account for 69% of the segment from 2018 to 2022. The utility-scale PV ground-mount segment is projected to experience even higher attach rates for tracking systems, eclipsing 81% by 2021.

• The strongest cost benefit of utilizing single-axis trackers is in the Southwestern United States, but markets across the Western and Southeastern United States also provide attractive opportunities for tracking systems compared to fixed-tilt, albeit the cost-benefit in such regions is weaker.

• The market for fixed-tilt PV systems has remained stable due to strong market share within the small megawatt-scale market (system sizes 1 MW to 20 MW) and in key emerging utility-scale markets such as Florida associated with land types and seasonal conditions that are less conducive for tracking systems.

Rooftop demand

• Roof-top PV accounted for 3.6 GW of PV structural BoS shipments in 2017, primarily driven by demand for residential pitched-roof systems in the United States.

• Railless solutions lost market share in the pitched-roof segment in 2017 primarily due to the pull back of large railless customers such as SolarCity/Tesla and Vivint Solar, though multiple suppliers launched or experienced a higher sales volume for railless solutions during the year.

— Solar Builder magazine

Meet the Plug-N-Play Solar Tracker from RPCS, in partnership with Array Technologies, Shoals, CAB Solar

CAB With String Inverter edited

RP Construction Services Inc. (RPCS) has formed a new partnership with solar balance of systems leader Shoals Technologies and CAB Solar to launch the Plug-N-Play Solar Tracker system. This turnkey system features the Array Technologies DuraTrack HZ v3 single-axis tracker, Shoals Technologies’ electric balance of systems wiring solutions, and CAB Solar’s above ground, messenger wire cable management system.

RPCS says this new partnership aims to simplify tracker project install by reducing trenching by 50 percent, utilizing less specialized labor, and requiring less time—all resulting in faster time to completion and CAPex savings. Shoal’s patented pre-labeled wiring systems are key here, and coupled with RPCS’s established reputation for turnkey success, this new system will eliminate the need for trenching within the array, reduce risk and complications associated with cost, lessen environmental influence, and improve trade coordination, creating faster, simpler installations.

What’s more, the Plug-N-Play Tracker approach also allows for more solar panels per string and fewer combiner boxes per site, cutting cost and solar electrical complications.

CAB With String Inverter 3 edited

“We’re really excited to be working with Shoals on our projects,” says Alex Smith, RPCS Chief Sales Officer. “RPCS is constantly striving to make project management easier and to allow our customers to win more projects and trust that the RPCS portion will be executed cleanly. Shoals wiring allows us to do that, as do Array trackers. We can provide a faster installation, a better price, and completely reliable products and project schedules that make executing tracker projects as easy or easier than fixed tilt.”

CAB Solar, the Cambria County Association for the Blind and Handicapped’s solar products division, pioneered the use of above ground cable management in grid-scale solar plants and has continually provided innovative designs and systems to meet customers’ needs. The newly released Integrated Grounding Cable Management System uses a copper composite messenger wire and specialized hardware for grounding and is safety listed by Intertek to UL 2703. For over 85 years, their various products routinely exceed the most stringent quality standards demanded by respected national and international customers.

RELATED: Tracking Trackers: We look at what’s new with these seven solar trackers

“CAB systems integrate well with both Array and Shoals, and RPCS is very knowledgeable in how to maximize CAB’s benefits. We are excited about the potential,” says Tim Wedding, CAB Solar Project Manager.

With over 400 MW and over 225 projects completed throughout the United States, RPCS provides full turnkey service and support for the industry’s most bankable and reliable tracker. The team at RPCS provides reliable support at every step of the project, delivering a level of quality and efficiency that parallels Array’s market reputation.

CAB Solar RPCS

“We are excited to partner with RPCS and are glad to support the highly optimized approach to solar construction that RPCS is taking by integrating a great family of products,” says Kent Miller, Shoals Technologies Senior Vice President of Sales, of the Plug-N-Play Tracker. “Combining above-ground wire management from CAB Solar Products, the Array Technologies tracker, and the Shoals wire management system is going to help developers and EPCs by providing a schedule-friendly and easier-to-maintain system.”

“As an electrical guy at the core, there is nothing better than a wireway that is accessible. RPCS’s installation, in combination with the Shoals wiring system, Array’s solar trackers, and the CAB Solar hangars, the installation process is smooth and keeps wires away from unknown underground conditions,” says Adam Larner, RPCS’s Vice President of Projects.

Through this latest offering, RPCS will be a single point of contact for design, engineering, installation, and procurement. From factory floor to field installation, RPCS makes tracker projects even simpler with the Plug-N-Play Tracker. Together, RPCS, Shoals, Array, and CAB provide customers the next evolution in solar tracker systems, making solar energy a more affordable, lower risk source of clean power for future generations.

— Solar Builder magazine

NEXTracker acquires key patents from Optimum Tracker

NexTracker logo

NEXTracker announced a technology agreement with French solar tracker company, Optimum Tracker, to acquire key intellectual property elated to mechanical, electrical and software systems that will allow further differentiation of NEXTracker’s solar tracker portfolio of products and services. NEXTracker says the acquired IP is especially relevant for its TrueCapture control system, which increases typical PV power plant energy harvest by 2 to 6 percent. The strategic partnership will also enable the two companies to expand their market presence in the burgeoning Middle East, Southern Europe, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa regions.

Founded in 2009, Optimum Tracker specializes in design, manufacturing, commercialization and maintenance of patented solar trackers and fixed-tilt structures for utility-scale solar plants.

RELATED: Tracking Trackers: We look at what’s new with these seven solar trackers

“We are honored to work with NEXTracker in the coming years,” explained Optimum Tracker’s President and Co-Founder Yacin de Welle. “This collaboration will help us both to enhance our products and propose state-of-the-art innovations, making solar an even more affordable and efficient energy source. Thanks to the complementary capabilities of our companies, we also expect to reach numerous markets worldwide.”

Solar tracker technology has firmly surpassed fixed-tilt solar applications for ground-mount utility-scale solar, with year-over-year growth of 32 percent in 2017, according to Greentech Media. This partnership is a strategic move for both companies to exploit their core competencies, differentiate their technologies and lower their customers’ levelized cost of energy in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

— Solar Builder magazine

NEXTracker acquires key patents from Optimum Tracker

NexTracker logo

NEXTracker announced a technology agreement with French solar tracker company, Optimum Tracker, to acquire key intellectual property elated to mechanical, electrical and software systems that will allow further differentiation of NEXTracker’s solar tracker portfolio of products and services. NEXTracker says the acquired IP is especially relevant for its TrueCapture control system, which increases typical PV power plant energy harvest by 2 to 6 percent. The strategic partnership will also enable the two companies to expand their market presence in the burgeoning Middle East, Southern Europe, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa regions.

Founded in 2009, Optimum Tracker specializes in design, manufacturing, commercialization and maintenance of patented solar trackers and fixed-tilt structures for utility-scale solar plants.

RELATED: Tracking Trackers: We look at what’s new with these seven solar trackers

“We are honored to work with NEXTracker in the coming years,” explained Optimum Tracker’s President and Co-Founder Yacin de Welle. “This collaboration will help us both to enhance our products and propose state-of-the-art innovations, making solar an even more affordable and efficient energy source. Thanks to the complementary capabilities of our companies, we also expect to reach numerous markets worldwide.”

Solar tracker technology has firmly surpassed fixed-tilt solar applications for ground-mount utility-scale solar, with year-over-year growth of 32 percent in 2017, according to Greentech Media. This partnership is a strategic move for both companies to exploit their core competencies, differentiate their technologies and lower their customers’ levelized cost of energy in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

— Solar Builder magazine