Obtaining the fastest return on investment for a solar PV installation is typically the No. 1 priority for everyone involved.
To achieve this goal, it's vital that the solar PV array has every opportunity to capture as much sunlight during the day as possible, as this will generate a greater amount of energy and ultimately expedite ROI. This drive for more efficiency to improve ROI has led to numerous innovations across the solar PV spectrum, from dual-glass modules to bifacial solar cells.
Among these new innovations, incorporating a solar tracker system has become one of the more popular ways to boost a solar module's efficiency.
Surging growth for PV trackers
At an estimated 20 percent annual growth through 2022, PV tracker installations will constitute the fast-growing PV mounting structure segment globally, according to "The Global PV Tracker Landscape 2017" published by GTMResearch. While PV tracking systems represents 20 percent of current ground-mount installations, this is expected to rise to 44 percent - a major jump. With ground-mount arrays continuing to account for between 70-75 percent of all solar installations, this means there'll be close to 35,000 PV tracking structures in place by 2022.
The expansion of the solar PV tracker market will continue to push down prices, with forecasts estimating average global pricing to decline 7 percent in 2017. Future price drops should arise from:
- Reduction in tracker parts.
- Minimizing structural requirements.
- Boosting module efficiency.
The U.S. will continue to lead the global tracker market by a large margin, with Mexico, China, India and Brazil also estimated to see considerable expansion. Overall, the global market value for solar trackers should experience year-over-year growth of 14 percent to reach $3.5 billion by 2022.
With the the current sector poised for solid growth in the coming years, let's look at what's fueling this demand.
Why the recent popularity in PV trackers?
As noted, one of the primary driving forces in solar PV innovations is the search for a faster ROI.
Trackers are an innovative technology for mounting PV modules. Instead of simply planting the modules in a stationary position, trackers automatically move to follow the sun's movement through the sky. By swiveling the module along the sun's arc, it allows more direct sunlight to shine on the solar PV cells, increasing its efficiency and ultimately generating more energy.
Not only does this direct exposure to solar rays increase the electrical output, it also optimizes land usage on a solar installation. This makes trackers an ideal solution for solar arrays that have limited space to work with but that still needs to reach a certain energy output threshold to make the project financially viable.
Further, recent technological advancements have improved the reliability of the electronics and mechanics in tracking systems, which has drastically lowered long-term maintenance concerns. This reduces O&M expenses over the long, making projects more economically attractive.
This is only the beginning. Solar trackers are becoming smarter, with next-generation iterations incorporating advanced technological components, such as big-data analytics and machine learning. These features will allow for more precise sun tracking, weather predictions and predictive analysis.
When combined with high-quality modules, like Trina Solar's DUOMAX Twin, solar trackers make an ideal format for improved efficiency, durability and reliability, which improve a project's ROI and long-term energy generation capabilities.
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