Funding Opportunity: SunShot Technology to Market (Incubator 10)
SunShot Subprogram: Technology to Market
Location: San Francisco, CA
Amount Awarded: $773,124
Awardee Cost Share: $193,281
Project Investigator: Yezin Taha
Nevados Engineering is creating a single axis tracker to help solar developers build projects on lands that are raised and uneven. By creating a terrain-agnostic solution, the single axis tracker will enable developers to use land that typically would not be considered, creating more site options, eliminating major construction costs, and increasing power generation.
Single axis solar trackers are the most common solution for installing large solar projects, but are limited by the expensive and destructive need of flattening land prior to installation. A developer installing a solar tracker project typically spends 10% of project budget and 15% of project schedule making the ground flat enough for installation. Environmental costs are factored into these estimates and include costs for mitigating wind-blown dust, rainwater erosion and other environmental factors. These direct and indirect costs limit the potential locations and investment value of solar power plants. The Nevados tracker solution combines an intelligent control system and a terrain-following structure to install trackers on natural terrain without the need for moving soil. Nevados Engineering’s solar single-axis-tracker enables ground-based installation on virtually any terrain, decreases installation costs, and increases power generation.
This project will develop new control algorithms that will monitor power generation from each tracker row to continuously commission and optimize the power plant with little or no human input. These control algorithms will also be used to fine-tune financial analyses of solar tracker projects built on non-flat terrain. Through continuous-commissioning, the tracker control system will identify shading, structural changes, shifting foundations and damaged equipment, and automatically adjust to optimize power output. By quantifying the changes to power generation from installing on sloped and rolling terrain, we will increase the accuracy of production estimates and reduce the financing risks for trackers installed on non-flat terrain.