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SolarQuarter India magazine had an exclusive conversation with Varun Sachar, Founder & CEO, of Asun Trackers, and learned about their 2 Axis PV trackers, their competitive edge over others, and how they generate higher yield with lower investment and improved IRR. He also shared his views on how the tracker technology will evolve in the near future.
Please help our readers understand Asun’s 2 Axis Solar PV trackers.
Our 2 Axis Solar PV Tracker is a technology that effectively plugs all the inherent conceptual and cost shortcomings in the MMS options available in the market. With our innovation in design and cost engineering, our Tracker has the potential to disrupt the existing market of Single Axis Trackers.
The existing Horizontal Mount Single Axis Trackers have a serious shortcoming, while they do track the sun East to West during the day, they fail to accommodate the seasonal North to South shift in the sun’s path. That is why their yield actually falls during the winter months, sometimes even lower than that of fixed mount MMS. That is where our 2 Axis design scores.
Ours Next-Generation solar tracker offers a near Dual Axis performance, thus maintaining consistently higher yield, across seasons, throughout the year. I call our technology disruptive because we are able to offer this performance at a cost close to that of a Single Axis Tracker.
What is the competitive edge that Asun 2 Axis Solar PV Trackers have over other trackers?
With falling solar power tariffs all over the world, the developers and investors have only one option, to bring about operational and cost efficiencies in their plants. Which includes improving their LCoE and increasing their project IRRs. Our technology helps the developers achieve exactly that. They can improve on their CUF by not overloading their plant on the DC side (which adds to the cost by increasing the number of panels and BoS) as is the case with existing MMSs because they have significantly higher yields coming from a given number of panels.
Optimised Angle of Incidence Across Seasons:
For best performance, the angle of incidence of the sun irradiation on the solar PV panel must be perpendicular or near perpendicular at all times. This was easier said than However, the sun not only moves from East to West every day but also shifts its path from North to South. The available Tracking technologies either allowed tracking East to West, hence the name Single-Axis, however, this resulted in significant losses in winter months, because while the panels were moving east to west but since the sun’s path had shifted lower in the sky, the angle of incidence throughout the day was never anywhere near normal. The available Dual Axis design took care of this shortcoming by tracking along both axes, but owing to prevalent designs the cost was very high thus often unviable for project economics.
We have solved not only the movement along with the two axes challenge but also surmounted the cost hurdle too, through innovation and astute design engineering.
Effective Across a Wider Band of Locations
Asun 2-Axis Tracker is effective at all locations on the globe whether above the Tropic of Cancer or below the Tropic of Capricorn, whereas the existing single-axis tracker is only effective close to the equator.
We did our first pilot project in Roorkee (above the Tropic of Cancer) in our 2 MW solar park. For this project, we already had a Fixed tilt and SAT installation and therefore we were able to compare the day-to-day performance with our new 2-Axis Tracker in real-time. The results gathered at the end of the full 1 year proved that the 2-axis tracker gave 3 times the yield compared with SAT over fixed-tilt. Below please find the comparative graph.
Performance: 2-Axis over Fixed Tilt in % 19.88
SAT over Fixed Tilt in % 6.65
Thus, keeping in mind the above three critical areas, what we have is a wholly new & enhanced Solar PV Tracking Technology that always maintains a near-normal angle of incidence, tracking along the two axes i.e East to West & North to South simultaneously. This new innovation is our 2-Axis Solar PV Tracker. Since it gives performance close to DAT at the cost of SAT, it is eminently suitable for any project because it improves LCoE and improves the project IRR.
Please tell us how the ASUN trackers generate higher yield with lower investment and improved IRR?
While designing the 2-Axis Tracker we kept the weight of the steel structure similar to a single axis tracker with an average yield parity at 2.5:1 across the globe (the yield parity will be lesser close to the equator and higher above the Tropic of Cancer and below the Tropic of Capricorn.
This categorically differentiates its effectiveness across the globe. Please see the pic below where simulation has been done with help of available software (PVSyT):
What are some advanced technologies integrated into your trackers?
The advanced technology in our 2-axis tracker is that it moves on two different axes i.e East to West and North to South, simultaneously, with the help of two electric actuators and an advanced electronic controller. The modular design offers higher terrain adaptability, while the structure is optimized for high wind tolerances. Most importantly our panel array configuration is highly suitable for Bifacial modules, offering better performance. We have also incorporated the latest self-lubricating polymer bearings to ensure a near-zero increase in maintenance costs as would be expected by an increase in the number of moving parts.
How do you see tracker technology evolving in the coming future?
Trackers today are evolving very fast because of many factors. One is increasing module capacities, which have increased from 300 watts in 2015 to 600+ watts in 2022. With this, the cost of MMS is on the lower side, requires lesser land, requires lesser cabling, and faster installation. This has reduced the cost of BoS. Trackers have made inroads that have reduced the DC loading with a marginal increase in cost for trackers, making it a viable solution nowadays.
According to the recent market survey by Reuters Events, the market for trackers in the US is estimated to be around 20-25 GW in 2022-23, with 90% installations expected on trackers. India has started moving along the same trend.
What are your future plans for growth and expansion?
We have been granted design registration in India and have moved for patents in 30 countries all above the Tropic of Cancer including India. We have already been awarded the patent for the USA in September 2021. We are working towards capitalizing on the early movers’ advantage by appointing business associates in various regions and working on the Technology Transfer/ Licensee model.