What is solar tracking?

Solar tracking is a racking technology that rotates modules to follow the sun through the day, using motors controlled by electronics. By following the sun the solar modules are exposed to more direct sunlight during the day and thus generate more energy.

The main solar tracking technologies are single-axis (following the sun from east to west) and dual-axis tracking (following the sun from east to west and north to south).

What are the financial benefits of solar tracking?

Generating electricity using solar PV requires an upfront capital investment. The rate at which this investment is paid off is a function of the operational life of the solar plant, and its energy yield i.e. how efficiently it can convert sunlight into electricity.

The yield of a solar plant is increased by up to 35% when using a combination of tracking and bifacial modules versus using fixed tilt. Single-axis solar trackers with bifacial solar modules are the dominant technology in modern utility-scale solar projects, due to their favourable economics.

The longer a solar plant is operational the better the potential returns. Most solar plants are designed to last 25-30 years and their financial returns are calculated on this basis.

The most common metric to compare the financial returns of solar plants is the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). A lower LCOE normally means a more favourable return on investment, however in cases where high cost electricity is being displaced by solar the return on investment (ROI) is a more realistic metric to consider. Due to the increased energy yield, solar tracking offers a much lower LCOE and higher ROI compared to fixed tilt.

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