Utility-Scale Solar: New White Paper compares PV Tracker Technology and their Stability in High Wind Events

German Solar Tracker leader Ideematec presents insights into stow strategies

4. June 2020. Ideematec, a German pioneer in Solar PV trackers has released a new white paper examining the effects of stow strategy on system efficiency and reliability. The main focus was on large scale PV installations and how they hold up in high wind situations. The results showed a clear cost-saving benefit from choosing a tracker with a 0° stow strategy.

The study draws on extensive storm data from Europe's major windstorm in 2018, giving insight into how changes in wind direction can play a part in the destructive nature of major storms. This inclusion of real-world storm data, and a detailed assessment into the frequency and severity of wind direction changes gives a far better idea of the true effects of wind damage on solar installations.

"One thing we've discovered is that the issue of wind directionality is largely overlooked when assessing a solar tracker's reliability in high wind events" said Nathalie Kermelk, Head of Engineering at Ideematec and co-author of the white paper "Achieving stability and efficiency while in stow position means nothing if they cannot be maintained throughout the storm's natural changes in wind direction."

The main focus of the white paper was in comparing the different stow strategies on the market, and how they hold up in real life situations. "The rapid expansion of solar PV across the globe makes an in-depth assessment on the long-term security of all major components of a PV system more important than ever - with trackers being perhaps the most important of all BOS components," said Dr. Thorsten Kray, Head of Building Aerodynamics at I.F.I. and co-author of the paper "The 30° stow strategies that are common with other large tracker companies simply don't offer the same peace of mind as a 0° strategy - when you look at the results, and when you think about how many high wind events a plant might see in its 30 year lifetime, the benefit actually becomes quite clear."

Ideematec trackers bring investors and developers even more peace of mind, securing themselves at a safe 0° angle in high wind events. With the inclusion of a patented new mechanical locking system, Ideematec's next generation tracker increases aerodynamic stability by mechanically locking the module table at every post. This in effect transforms the tracking system into a fixed tilt system, effectively eliminating aerodynamic instabilities such as torsional galloping or flutter.

"We believe that modern tracking systems can unlock considerable cost savings. The excellent dynamic properties and improved locking mechanisms of our trackers will offer the opportunity to further lower the LCOE of PV systems" said Mario Eckl, CEO of Ideematec. "As our industry moves to play a bigger role in the global energy market, our trackers offer a longer service life for both tracker and panels thanks to less load pressure and wind stress - this is turn decreases O&M expenditures while increasing long term bankability."

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