By Nicolai F. Andresen
When tracking the path of the sun, solar panels can harness the sun’s energy throughout the day. This is why tracking of the sun generates an increased yield from the same PV surface area.
Many features and possibilities that tracking systems offer today make them a significant addition to photovoltaic parks. Depending on weather conditions and the right position of solar panels, tracking can lead to a significantly increased energy production of solar parks.
To obtain effective solar tracking, choosing the right tracking system and knowing where to place the solar panels in order to gain the most PV surface is crucial. Therefore, it is beneficial to know how to calculate the position of the sun and transfer it into the position of the tracking system.
LINAK offers electrical actuator movement for tracking systems that add to the efficiency of tracking. At LINAK Headquarters in Denmark, it was self-evident to add tracking to the newly built photovoltaic park and to use its electrical movement solutions for the tracking part.
The park contains 28 trackers and solar panels with 500 m2 of solar cells. This will provide approximately 90,000 kWh every year or a total production of 2,700,000 kWh during the park’s estimated lifetime of 30 years. Since February 1st, 2011, the solar park has produced more than 47,000 kWh which is more than half of its expected annual power generation.
The LINAK photovoltaic park is the largest park in Denmark placed on land and has been the object of testing the benefits of tracking. From June 1st to June 6th, 2011, the first tests were made comparing the yield of static and tracked solar panels. The results of these tests were that the tracked panels generated 19.8% more energy than the static solar panels. In other parts of the world, these results might reach an even higher percentage due to the sun’s position and power.
Not only does tracking improve the yield of a solar park. It is also a cost-efficient solution to use electric actuator movement partly because of its the long lifetime and limited need for maintenance.
Additionally, LINAK actuators have integrated Modbus RTU which makes them easy to install and lowers the total cost per tracker because all communication runs through a cable into central master controllers. This means that only a few master controllers are needed for one solar park. The use of signal cables and additional controllers is also cut down because all vital electronics can be placed in an inverter house.
Embedded Modbus communication adds more functionality to LINAK actuators through, e.g., adjustable current limits, speed regulation and programmable strokes. Moreover, it is possible to retrieve service data about current consumption through Modbus.
Ultimately a tracking solution with embedded Modbus from LINAK both cuts down on operating and installation costs and adds to the benefits of installing a tracking system in solar parks. LINAK’s goals are to make tracking easier and more efficient so that it can reach its highest potential and utilize the energy of the sun to the fullest.
Nicolai F. Andresen is Business Development Manager of LINAK A/S Denmark(www.linak.com).
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