1. Please help our readers understand Trina Bifacial + Tracker Solutions.
Trina was first mover to large format modules and is unique in the industry in being the only module manufacturer to provide an integrated PV and tracker solution. Accordingly, we had earlier visibility than any of our module and tracker competitors and understand the complexities and engineering challenges in successfully accommodating these large format modules into a single axis tracker structure in a fashion that is unequivocally structurally sound (with extensive independent verification from world leading wind consultancies RWDI and CPP) yet has been value engineered to optimise costs in the capex sensitive Indian market. With a highly bankable track record approaching 7GW of trackers over the best part of the past decade with some of the planet’s largest IPPs and EPCs, and backing from the public listed Trina parent company by way of after sales support and warranty, only TrinaTracker unlocks the highest and most assured long term energy outcome for our clients. Please note however that TrinaTracker is also available for projects using modules from manufacturers other than Trina.
2. What are the key features of your single axis trackers which differentiate them from competitors?
TrinaTracker boasts a number of points of difference over our competitors. Firstly, through the integrated design, every last engineering detail has been rigorously validated to optimise long term reliability and energy performance, such as how the modules physically integrate into the structure with minimal structural shading on the underside of the bifacial modules. This provides Single point accountability and eliminates blame shifting between different stakeholders if there are any performance or reliability issues in service and provides a lower technology risk profile as compared to traditional disaggregated procurement models where modules come from one company and trackers from another.
Secondly, our longer time spent evaluating and iterating our full scope aero elastic wind tunnel testing on both our 1P dual row Agile and 2P single row Vanguard models informed our thinking that we needed to pivot to a multiple point drivetrain concept to guard against second order dynamic issues (the propensity of which increase with the larger module form factor and longer strings, up to forty modules in a string with Trina’s low voltage 210mm wafer Vertex modules). The multiple points of driving act to break up the accumulation of torsional strain along the tracker tube and structure and increase the structural natural frequency to a level far in excess where wind induced dynamic phenomena could pose a risk.
Finally, TrinaTracker is the only solution on the market with the backing of a renewable industry major like the publicly listed Trina parent company. With the big brother and balance sheet of the Trina parent standing behind the tracker solution, we find our clients, especially those that take the long term view and Build-Own-Operate are much more comfortable in making the transition from traditional fix tilt to single axis tracker in markets where trackers are not yet ubiquitous, like India.
3. How do Trina tracking systems deliver higher power gains and lower LCOE?
TrinaTracker can provide our intelligent tracker controller (known as SuperTrack) which utilises machine learning functionality to maximise yield, and has been independently verified by CGC Group to deliver more than 3% more kWh/kWp on typical sites through optimising tracking angle with respect to bifacial performance in heavy cloud cover, and up to 8% on sites with highly variable terrain. Furthermore there is a “value stacking” effect where the yield boost from bifacial modules is more pronounced than on fixed tilt.
From a construction perspective, for regions with unconstrained land with lower acquisition cost encourages deployment at a low GCR with wide pitch, this uses more land per unit plant capacity and increases geotechnical and civil risk. Trina Tracker requires fewer foundations, as low as 100 piles per MW DC, which mitigates risks on unforeseen costs for piling and foundations, pre-drilling and so forth as well as deliver considerably more in construction savings as compared to the small cost premium on the tracker. Furthermore, our trackers enable industry leading slope tolerance (up to 30% in any direction with our 2P Vanguard) which greatly mitigates risks around unforeseen civils works, cut and fill and so forth. So it is important to work with a tracker partner who can mitigate these two key construction risks and unlock a lower construction cost.
Regarding O&M, TrinaTracker has an extensive track record over the best part of a decade in all key global markets. We have cultivated a rigorous vendor qualification program to ensure high quality of all critical tracker components to enable typical tracker uptime in excess of 99%. And with trackers the cost of module cleaning with our robotic cleaning solutions, coupled with wider less impeded access between the rows facilitates more cost effective vegetation management, meaning the typical full scope O&M cost is equivalent or not too dissimilar to fix tilt systems.
For trackers, we see the best economic outcome being attained in regions with a high Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) Solar Resource. That said, while traditionally with monofacial modules the economic returns were not quite as favourable for trackers in tropical equatorial regions with high solar altitude and a sustained period of the year with heavy cloud cover, we find the value stacking synergy of bifacial modules on trackers can restore the yield advantage of trackers in Vietnam back to 18% or more kWh/kWp as compared to fixed tilt for same DC capacity.
What is interesting in a Vietnam specific context is we have compared trackers and bifacial at 125% DC to AC overdrive to fixed tilt monofacial at the more common 150% overdrive. What we found is that even in consideration of cost of land, an onerous adder for O&M opex even though we are confident O&M opex is similar for tracker and fix tilt, and a more than one cent premium on bifacial as compared to monofacial, is that in the same footprint and same MW AC capacity the tracker delivers 1% more energy on an absolute MWh per year basis and a lower LCOE by more than 7% – this is because with the tracker the DC capacity is 14% lower, driving an overall capex reduction of more than 8%. We expect this to remain while PV price remains high.
4. What are some latest technology features incorporated in Trina trackers?
For trackers, we see the best economic outcome being attained in regions with a high Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) Solar Resource. That said, while traditionally with monofacial modules the economic returns were not as favourable for trackers in tropical equatorial regions with high solar altitude and a sustained period of the year with heavy cloud cover, we find the value stacking synergy of bifacial modules on trackers can restore the yield advantage of trackers back towards 20% or more kWh/kWp as compared to fixed tilt for same DC capacity.
What is interesting in an India specific context is we have compared trackers and bifacials at 125% DC to AC overdrive to fixed tilt monofacial at the more common 150% overdrive. What we found is that even in consideration of cost of land, higher cost of tracker with additional loading for non domestic steel duty, an onerous adder for O&M opex even though we are confident O&M opex is similar for tracker and fix tilt, and a more than one cent premium on bifacial as compared to monofacial, is that in the same footprint and same MW AC capacity the tracker delivers 8% more energy on an absolute MWh per year basis and a lower LCOE by more than 13% – this is because with the tracker the DC capacity is 14% lower, driving an overall capex reduction of more than 8%. We expect this to remain while PV price remains high and especially so as the industry in India moves on to post BCD exemption next year
5. Please brief about your recent order and your plans for SouthEast Asian Market in near future.
For the reasons articulated in the previous answer, we see a promising future for single axis tracking and bifacial in the SEA region. We are watching the Vietnam market closely as our technology provides a compelling financial outcome at both ends of the market, from large scale DPPA but we are also exploring the possibility of ground mount self consumption models for industrial consumers whose roof may not be suitable for solar but possess sufficient land holdings in close proximity to their facilities. In Malaysia we quoted over half a GW in the recent LSS4 tender and recently signed our first order there for our integrated TrinaPro tracker and bifacial module on a behind the meter installation at an industrial site. Even in extreme high wind regions like the Philippines in some locations, we see tracking as a viable option and unlocking lower cost of energy even after considering additional costs to reinforce the structures. And in other markets like Thailand and Indonesia we are leveraging the extensive reach Trina maintains through our module sales business to drive engagement and opportunities for our tracker business