- Trina Tracker’s SuperTrack system uses two innovative algorithms -smart tracking algorithm (STA) and smart backtracking algorithm (SBA)
- STA is designed to improve power generation in highly diffused irradiance conditions, while SBA optimizes row-to-row shading
- In addition to SuperTracker, Trina Tracker also provides SCADA system on the cloud that allows every plant to be remotely controlled and monitored
As the adoption of trackers is gaining traction within the industry, so is the use of tracking algorithms, which help improve power production without the need for major changes to the system.
Oscar Aira, Head of Solution Sales for EMEA at TrinaTrackers, presented the company’s smart control monitoring system SuperTrack at the TaiyangNews Solar Trackers Conference (Watch Presentation here). The main features of this software suite are an increase in energy gain, especially when using bifacial modules and/or in case of issues related to topography.
Delving further into the details of SuperTrack, the controlling system consists of a software platform equipped with different sensors that allow processing of data from multiple sources. SuperTrack is integrated into the actual architectural communications system of the plants. In terms of hardware, apart from the most common components such as the net control unit, tracker control unit, anemometers, snow sensor and industrial PC, the SuperTrack solution also needs a pyranometer. The most innovative part is the one that pertains to the algorithms, split into smart tracking algorithm (STA) and smart backtracking algorithm (SBA). The solution ultimately layers this smart tracking function on top of the usual monitoring & control, meteorological data sharing and data storage.
It is implied that the algorithms are the heart of the innovation. The benefit with STA is that it improves power generation with highly diffused irradiance conditions, a function that is very beneficial when the plant is based on bifacial modules. Aira showed in his presentation that STA improves the energy generation, versus a conventional system, during days of higher diffused irradiation, for example during cloudy, rainy and snowy days.
STA takes 12 relevant inputs instead of 4 as is the case with traditional astronomical algorithms, i.e., apart from the time, date, longitude and latitude, STA uses several system parameters such as length, height, pitch, array width, soil albedo, and bifaciality. The tool also collects the irradiance data—direct and diffused light—from the pyranometer. This allows the system to position the trackers to capture maximum sunlight. As a future upgrade, the irradiance data that is currently collected from pyranometers can also be routed from the inverters and string boxes that directly links actual plant production.
SBA is another module of the software suite that reduces row-to-row shading losses. As can be expected, the tool has its best functionality during the sunrise and sunset. SBA functions based on a simulation of the 3D model of the terrain and shading. This 3D model considers every tracker not as a line, but as a surface with different slopes along the tracker, which allows it to map the position of the modules accurately. Then a Mini-Shading model defines the optimal backtracking angle based on iterative decision making. The algorithm defines the position as optimal where energy generation is the highest, not just to minimize shading but keeping the mismatch in view as well. For example, conventional algorithms consider shading as detrimental. But in SBA’s case, the algorithm also takes mismatch into account and chooses a position that proves more beneficial even with a higher amount of shading.
Combining the benefits of STA and SBA, TrinaTracker claims a 3% to 8% boost in energy generation. SmarTrack, in addition to locations where diffused irradiation is higher, is also ideally suited for plants with uneven terrain. And the installation of SuperTrack is also simple and less time consuming, emphasizes Aira.
The company also has a new SCADA system on the cloud that allows every plant to be remotely controlled and monitored. TrinaTracker also offers a bundled solution with a range of services, including project engineering, product engineering, supervision during the assembly, the assembly process itself, after-sales service and specialized technical assistance during the operation and maintenance of the plant. With this solution, TrinaTracker aims to offer a complete solution and work as a partner through the lifetime of the product.
The text is an excerpt from TaiyangNews 2nd Market Survey on Solar Trackers, which was published in Dec. 2022 and can be downloaded for free here.