Solar Builder

JAN-FEB 2019

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 31 Builder We look at the opportunity of solar development in Northern latitudes By Charles W. Thurston "If you see a tracker system in the Arctic controlled by actuator arms that can freeze, or fragile motors or sensors, it can be a con- cern," notes Lance Brown, the director of marketing at Array Technologies. "But we are seeing more and more requests for installations at higher latitude locations." Array did a dual-axis project in the Arctic for the Canadian government 20 years ago for a 360-degree tracker, and it is still operating now, designed to function down to -25.6 degrees F, Brown says (new trackers are tested to -29.2 degrees F). Array is currently working on a new snow stow technology that will further optimize tracker performance in heavy snow conditions. Dealing with snow load is a primary requirement in the north. "We have installed our dual-axis Savanna in heavy snow areas in northern Ontario and have had no issues with snow load," says Nic Morgan, VP of business development at Morgan Solar in Toronto. "We found that the dual-axis sheds snow faster than fixed or single-axis designs. We can't compete with single-axis trackers below 40 degrees latitude, but above that, dual-axis technology can offer better yield." One area of expertise that Toronto-based GP Joule has devel- oped in the cold Canadian climate is foundation engineering, with a current single-axis tracker design that utilizes up to 60 percent fewer piles — or as few as 250 per MW — than general U.S. tracker competition, providing 20 percent more steel and a more robust structure, says David Pichard, CEO of the company. The system also uses up to 20 percent fewer piles than a competing standard fixed-tilt design. Another innovation in tracker design for snow conditions is the three-armed, dual-axis Konza Solar tracker. "Our three-actuator design enables an unencumbered range of motion, a simpler tracking method, the lack of a grease require- ment and no cardinal orientation requirement," says Nick Moser, the director of operations for the Anchorage-based company. Part of the challenge tracking the sun in the Arctic is moving panels through wide angles in all directions, for which dual-axis trackers are inherently designed. "The tripodal design is both inherently stable and able to enjoy a number of ingenious mechanical advantages. It handles dynamic loading extremely well by distributing loads in a way that no other tracker can," Moser says.

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