Installation and Soft Cost Reduction for Horizontal Single Axis Trackers
May 26, 2021
Energy Research and Development (500)
Electric Program Investment Charge - EPIC
The large-scale solar industry has historically focused on flat land for project installations. In 2019, more than 70 percent of all large-scale solar projects in the United States were installed with single axis trackers for higher efficiencies. The tools and equipment to operate these projects were designed for flat land installations, which were still the norm. However, flat land is not widely available and is often expensive and dedicated to other uses such as housing, roads, and farming. The needs of the rapidly expanding solar industry for land and lack of flat land are creating a demand for sloped land for large-scale solar installations. This can limit potential installation sites, require substantial earth work for site preparation, and result in substantial environmental degradation during the process.
This project demonstrated a novel single axis solar photovoltaic tracking system suitable for sloped and rolling terrain. The project will help solar developers build projects on lands closer to electric load centers and interconnection points that typically would not be considered, creating more site options. The project will also help overcome barriers to the achievement of California's energy goals by increasing the available land for installing solar photovoltaic and reducing construction costs by eliminating the need for grading soil and environmental mitigation costs, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in project budget and a 15 percent reduction in project schedule time.