Solar Builder

JAN 2018

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 | 35 4. New trends and opportunities for ground-mounted PV emerge as technologies and business models continue to evolve. Some tracker vendors such as Solar FlexRack offer both fixed-tilt and tracker systems for complete solutions on any terrain. Photo courtesy of GRID Alternatives . A notable trend emerging in the United States is demand for hybrid mounting systems for some customers. Such solutions are increasing in popularity in some markets, especially those that have been very active historically, because of the lack of suitable terrain to support the use of PV tracking systems due to the sensitivity of the components. For sites that have a mix of suitable and unsuitable land for PV trackers, some customers are benefiting from working with suppliers that offer both fixed-tilt and tracker mounting systems to optimize the energy output of such projects, using the fixed-tilt mounting on rougher terrain and tracker mounting on smoother terrain. This type of solution caters well to suppliers such as SunLink, GameChange Solar and Solar FlexRack. Suppliers solely focused on tracking systems, such as NEXTracker and Array Technologies, continue to improve their products to allow customers to use their products on less than ideal land types as well. An interesting solution developed by NEXTracker and its parent company Flex involves integrating energy storage with the design of the PV tracking system. The company has designed solutions around both flow and lithium ion batteries to service the needs various cus- tomers may have regarding their specific circumstances. The primary benefits energy storage can provide to PV customers include broader flexibility of the power generated by the PV system to better meet the load profile of their business and the ability to store energy that would otherwise be lost due to clipping by the power conversion system. NEXTracker's solution goes a step further by applying the company's in-house monitoring and software to optimize and manage the opera- tions of the energy storage system in conjunction with the output from the single-axis tracking system. Other suppliers are seeking to offer additional services by leveraging expertise and/or partnerships to diversify their businesses and create additional sales channels for their products. For example, SunLink offers integration, O&M and software services for some customers and GameChange Solar is seeking to leverage connections with financial partners to help fund the project pipelines of their cus- tomers. Offering such services can generate additional sales chan- nels that provide the benefit of helping customers manage fewer vendors and streamlining project development, integration and operational experiences. Camron Barati, analyst, and Cormac Gilligan, research manager, are experts covering the U.S. solar market for IHS Markit.

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