Tracking your Solar Investment

Best Practices for Solar Tracker O&M

With billions of dollars invested and gigawatts of solar installed every month, savvy investors and owners understand that to maximize financial returns and optimize solar power plant performance, a well-thought-out plan for a complete operations and maintenance (O&M) program must be baked into the economics of any project before the first boots hit the ground.

As one of the most important components in any ground-mount PV array, solar racking and tracking systems play a key role in any O&M considerations. Single-axis trackers (SATs) have become increasingly popular because of the higher energy yield they produce compared to fixed-tilt systems, yet many developers are still gun-shy about procuring SATs for their projects because of the presumed costs of maintaining such systems.

This paper discusses and analyzes the factors to consider when evaluating tracker technologies from an O&M perspective. It will answer six frequently asked questions about SAT O&M, including:

  1. Do SATs achieve a lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE) overall when taking O&M into account?
  2. What O&M criteria should my company consider when selecting an SAT?
  3. Are there standard SAT designs that lend themselves to lower O&M costs?
  4. Are there standard components across linked row and unlinked row trackers?
  5. What system parts and upgrades will be available for the life of my project?
  6. How should my company evaluate the viability of a long term SAT partner?

A case study comparing the durability and ruggedness of different types of SATs during flooding and other extreme weather events will also be presented.

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