Bifacial & Solar Trackers Conference Day 1

TaiyangNews Explores Bifacial Modules & Solar Trackers’ Winning Connection In Virtual Conference

Bifacial & Solar Trackers Conference Day 1

TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela (left) and PVEL CEO Jenya Meydbray (right) during fire chat on day 1 of our Bifacial & Solar Trackers Conference. (Photo Credit: TaiyangNews)

  • TaiyangNews’ Bifacial & Solar Trackers Conference day 1 had leading module and tracker makers along with independent testing firm PVEL in attendance
  • Participants hailed bifacial modules and solar trackers as an excellent tandem that improves a utility scale project’s yield while bring down the overall LCOE
  • As sentiment for local manufacturing picks up pace globally, PVEL CEO Jenya Meydbray said the developers should insist on quality certifications for the products they use in their projects

Bifacial solar is probably one of the big success stories of the global solar PV industry as it helps solar installations to significantly improve their yield. Similarly solar trackers that allow modules to follow the movement of the sun, allow for optimum use of sunlight for power generation in utility scale solar plants. Put them together and you have a winning formula.

To learn about the latest developments about these 2 key components of utility scale solar power plants, TaiyangNews is holding a 2-day virtual conference on Bifacial & Solar Trackers-Boosting Solar Power Plant Yields with industry experts and leading suppliers participating.

On day 1 of the conference on July 5, 2022, TaiyangNews Head of Technology Shravan Chunduri shared initial results of our Market Survey Solar Trackers 2022 that shows trackers with bifacial modules are increasingly becoming the key ingredient of utility scale PV as their combination boosts power yield.

This pairing can be exploited also for agrivoltaics as tracker makers offer terrain following products adapting these to any landscape. To cut costs, companies are also bringing down their use of steel while investing in reliable local supply chain. Manufacturers also offer artificial intelligence (AI) based controls to better manage the installations.

Chunduri said noon-peak shaving may turn into a USP for trackers in a few select markets in the near future.

Leading global solar tracker supplier, headquartered in the US, Nextracker’s Project Engineer Lubaba Mawas spoke about solving developer challenges with bifacial optimized and terrain following trackers, especially since most utility scale installations today bring these 2 technologies together.

Nextracker’s NX Horizon-XTR products as terrain following trackers offer a solution to utility scale developers to bring down their overall project costs by way of saving on earthing and flattening of land parcel, leading to no major impact on the local ecology. Mawas explained that since these trackers can adapt to any complex terrain, these can be used for various landscapes and territories.

Talking about her company’s other offerings, Mawas shared that True Capture as a self-adjusting tracking control system is designed to enhance the production of any given site by offering row-to-row algorithm and other features.

Discussing the use of ultra-high-power dual-glass bifacial modules to boost energy yield, Trina Solar’s Product Manager Rocky Li said dual glass structure provides excellent reliability and durability for bifacial solar modules along with additional protection to embedded solar cells. These also help lower solar LCOE and increase yield, hence the choice for company’s flagship 210 Vertex 670W+ dual glass bifacial module.

Sharing findings of a virtual project assessment of a 50 MW solar plant in Spain, Li said bifacial modules in a fixed-tilt system can lower LCOE by 1.93%, and with tracker system it can bring it down by 2.26%. Hence, pairing dual glass bifacial modules with tracking system will get the lowest LCOE, he added.

Since 2015 when it started shipping dual-glass bifacial modules, Trina Solar counts these shipments to have crossed 20 GW to date.

LONGi Solar’s Technical Director Utility Europe, Vitor Rodrigues shared case studies of solar projects with bifacial modules and trackers to bat for this tandem. He was of the opinion that even as new solar cell technologies and designs come up, the concept of bifacial solar modules is here to stay as these deliver better yield, and when combined with trackers, the benefits go up even more.

Since single-axis solar trackers are a relatively new technology for solar panel mounting structures that allow east-west sun tracking, suppliers like Antaisolar are now exploring ways to deal with wind induced instabilities with extensive research and development. Global Engineering Director of Antaisolar Emmanuele Chiappori said there is a need to conduct wind tunnel studies (WTT) to correctly capture static loads, dynamic loads and instabilities.

Wind can cause solar trackers to flutter, create torsional divergence or galloping, thereby compromising a tracker’s stability factor. Increasing stiffness of the tracker is the most significant intervention to increase a tracker’s stability which can be done by increasing its size and shorten free span length, said Chiappori. He also added a caveat saying the industry needs to figure this out since increasing tracker size means increased of use of steel which can again push up costs.

Offering a neutral perspective from the eyes of an independent PV testing agency, PV Evolution Labs’ (PVEL) CEO Jenya Meydbray shared findings of outdoor testing of bifacial modules and trackers. He pointed at how bifacial solar modules have overshadowed monofacial modules in the last 2 years.

Currently PERC solar cell technology remains most popular. It will only be close to 2022-end and 2023-beginning that n-type technology with its higher efficiencies, better bifaciality and further benefits is to actually come into the market in significant numbers.

Meydbray stressed that it is critical for developers to ensure and demand quality certification for modules from their vendors which is extremely significant for the world to reach TW scale of solar manufacturing to meet increasing demand and climate targets.

Fire chat

In a fire chat with TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela, PVEL’s Jenya Meydbray discussed the reliability side of utility scale solar power plants. Answering Schmela’s query about the widespread use of glass-glass modules, Meydbray explained, that while the technology has its merits, in the US there’s a considerable amount of glass-backsheet bifacial modules used in PV power plants, as Texas, a very large US solar market, is regularly facing big hailstorms and the largest module supplier there, JinkoSolar promotes glass-backsheets.

Even for trackers, the company said the industry needs to evaluate factors related to wind impact as PV is being implemented in diverse locations with challenging topography. Rising prices of steel is another significant element tracker makers need to factor in. Nextracker for instance is investing in local supply chain for this metal (see Steel Fab Reopens In US For Nextracker).

Citing challenges for the industry in the times to come, PVEL CEO pointed out that the quality of modules may even depend on things like the financial health of manufacturer – once a module maker is not doing well that is reflected in material quality as well. Both went into detailed talks about PVEL’s latest Module Reliability Scorecard 2022 results, for example discussing why this year’s thermal cycling testing results are the best in PVEL’s history – because bill of materials with new multi-busbar cell interconnections were more reliable than older busbar designs.

At the same time, as newer geographies emerge for local solar PV manufacturing and related components due to growing protectionism around the world, Meydbray asked the industry to watch out for a possible dip in quality of products as untrained workforce is likely to be deployed in many regions.

Tomorrow, on July 6, that is on Day 2 of the Conference, there will be presentations by Dr Radovan Kopecek, Managing Director at ISC Konstanz; Oscar Aira, Head of Solution Sales for EMEA, Trina Tracker; Song Li, Manager JinkoSolar; Steven Tang, R&D Engineer from Hangzhou First; and Miguel Herrero, Markets & Insights Analyst PVcase (see below). For detailed agenda and to attend the Conference, please register for free here.

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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