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The Core Principles Of TrinaTracker Surround High Quality, Exceptional Performance And Technology Leadership: Andrew Gilhooly, Head of TrinaTracker and Utility Solution Sales, Trina Solar Asia Pacific

Andrew Gilhooly - Head of TrinaTracker and Utility Solution Sales, Trina Solar Asia Pacific

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Conversation Highlights:

  • Along with SuperTrack, we also launched a new tracker – Vanguard 1P, a 1-in-portrait independent tracker with high flexibility to various complex terrains, fully compatible with ultra-high power modules ranging from 400W to 670W+.
  • TrinaTracker meets the most demanding requirements and our technology has been specifically designed to enable our customers to unlock and deploy upon ever-increasingly challenging sites.

How has 2022 been so far for Trina’s tracker business in the APAC region? What have been some key developments?

2022 has been a promising year. After Trina launched its patented ‘Trina Smart Cloud’, a unique intelligent monitoring and control tracking solution last year, we continue to innovate and launched our smart control system, SuperTrack earlier this May. Shortly after, SuperTrack saw its 1GW milestone of orders globally. These projects are distributed in Asia, Europe and Latin America, in more than 10 countries. Along with SuperTrack, we also launched a new tracker – Vanguard 1P, a 1-in-portrait independent tracker with high flexibility to various complex terrains, fully compatible with ultra-high power modules ranging from 400W to 670W+. In the APAC region, we also recently installed our first trackers in India, Myanmar and Malaysia, and have recently signed multiple large utility deals with IPPs in Australia, New Zealand and Israel who prefer the free issue model and value Trina providing the industry’s only integrated package of intelligent single axis trackers and high power 600W+ bifacial modules.

We want our clients to know that we are also targeting the behind-the-meter segment as well as utility-scale, as trackers deliver the highest energy outcome per unit area, providing the greatest opportunity for businesses to maximize avoided energy purchases from the grid and enabling companies to take control of their energy OPEX while maximizing CO2 emissions which is beneficial from a CSR and ESG perspective. Recently, we installed a high-tech bifacial tracker on our 2P Vanguard tracker with our intelligent SuperTrack system for Elektrisola, a prestigious manufacturer of electrical cables one hour from Kuala Lumpur, in conjunction with our partners at Coara Solar, a leading installer of large solar systems in Malaysia. The site was in the middle of the jungle on top of a mountain which is a testament to how TrinaTracker can unlock the most challenging of sites.

Trina also has a Solutions Team that can provide bundled module/tracker & FixOrigin/BoS/Inverter solutions with engineering services as a one-stop shop to make the whole process as seamless as possible.

What are some advanced technologies incorporated in Vanguard 1P?

The Vanguard 1P has exceptional reliability, excellent O&M Efficiency, lower BOS cost and High Energy Yield.

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Exceptional Reliability

  • Bi-Damper system for unequivocal assurance of suitability in high winds
  • Optimized Torque Tube Design for tremendous torsional stiffness under wind-induced dynamic phenomena
  • Patented Spherical Bearing – improves terrain adaptability with three-dimensional articulation
  • Advanced Stow Strategies and Integrated Alarm Strategy for completely autonomous protection of the plant in adverse weather conditions such as high wind, snow, flood and hail storms

Excellent O&M Efficiency

  • A range of fully qualified Cleaning Robot solutions from trusted partners for expedient and cost-effective module cleaning to ensure optimal plant performance
  • Trina Smart Cloud – provides smart O&M with remote monitoring and control, component performance reporting and remote triage and diagnostic functionality

High Energy Yield

  • The solar industry’s only fully integrated Tracker & Module solution, providing the very highest assurance in terms of Compatibility and long-term performance
  • SuperTrack Smart Tracking Technology – Up to 8% energy increase in heavy cloud conditions and during backtracking on sites with uneven terrain with Supertrack Smart Tracker Control integration

Give us the major highlights of the SuperTrack Smart Tracking algorithm.

As the name suggests, the SuperTrack Smart Tracking algorithm is an innovative smart control system that is equipped with unique features such as intelligent tracking and backtracking technologies, “Broadcast + Polling” communication strategy, and an extreme weather protection strategy. The Smart Tracking algorithm increases in overcast days and other highly diffuse irradiance conditions while the Smart Backtracking logarithm reduces generation losses due to row-to-row shading in terrains with uneven slopes. Relying on the intelligent control of the controller, SuperTrack integrates multiple extreme weather protection strategies targeting strong wind, heavy snow, and hail. Through this functionality, SuperTrack achieves a boost of the energy yield of up to 8% and therefore reduces the LCOE significantly.

Links for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldXKOhI0Zt0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMcrifBDEfc

What makes Trina tracker solutions unique and the best in the industry?

The core principles of TrinaTracker surround high quality, exceptional performance and technology leadership. By offering the industry’s only integrated module and tracker solution, and by Trina being the first mover to the large format bifacial modules now ubiquitous in the industry, we deeply understand the complexities in accommodating these large modules in long strings in an unequivocally structurally safe fashion more than anyone else. Moreover, with the tracker solution and warranty being backed by the Trina Solar parent (the industry’s most bankable brand), we provide unparalleled assurance to our customers that we will be around to support them for the entire asset lifetime.

TrinaTracker is also only one of the very few tracker manufacturers to have deployed at a large scale in cyclonic regions in 2018. We installed 120MWp in northern Australia which has had zero wind issues ever since and in fact, was announced as one of the best-performing assets on the grid in June this year.

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One only has to look at the damage caused by the recent Typhoon Noru in South East Asia to comprehend the importance of partnering with the right tracker supplier who has applied the requisite due diligence in wind testing validation and also has the balance sheet to satisfy the banks and lenders.

TrinaTracker meets the most demanding requirements and our technology has been specifically designed to enable our customers to unlock and deploy upon ever-increasingly challenging sites. Traditionally, Customers typically faced issues such as difficult and expensive O&M, low reliability and wind stability and large power generation loss in trackers. TrinaTracker’s solutions tackle all these issues with our smart designs (Optimised design for large format modules in long strings, validated by wind tunnel testing with the world’s leading wind consulting firms RWDI and CPP), high-tech software solutions (SuperTrack algorithm, Trina Smart Cloud) and low cost preventive and corrective O&M (robot cleaning partner solutions, TrinaCloud SCADA) which in turn results in low BOS costs, low O&M cost and high energy yield. We are unique in the industry in being the only module manufacturer to provide an integrated PV and tracker solution.

What new products and technologies is Trina currently working on? Are any new products lined up?

In the past two years, we have been concentrating on fully integrating TrinaTracker into the wider Trina Solar organization and launching our solutions, including tracker structure (Agile, Vanguard 1P/2P), FixOrigin, SuperTrack Smart Control system, Trina Smart Cloud platform; As we

have executed our GoToMarket strategy and in readiness for the wave of large projects reaching implementation phase across the region, we’ve considerably upsized our services team from pre-sales engineering support, project delivery and on-site instruction & supervision, and after-sales; all these to give our customers a best-tracking design solution, a sound project quality, and easy O&M.

Also, to supplement our internal 7GW per year production capacity in China, we have also decentralized our supply chain to overcome the current challenges from the high shipping costs and import duties. We have qualified multiple local vendors in India to supply all structural tracker items and have started doing the same in other markets like Australia, Vietnam, South Korea, the Middle East and South America. Trina has also recently launched the Vertex DEG19R 570-580W module which is a hybrid of 210 and 182mm cell technology that we find unlocks a truly optimal tracker configuration and therefore lowers both supply and BOS cost.

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For extreme high wind markets like the Philippines where trackers are more challenging to be financially viable due to the high cost to reinforce the structure, we are also pleased to offer our FixOrigin fixed structure solutions which can also be bundled in with our modules as a package, and has been rigorously engineered to resist the highest of winds and has imparted the value engineering learnings from the tracker to maximise bifacial performance and reliability.

How are you gearing up for 2023?

Following the acquisition and launch of our tracker business by Trina Solar, there is a very firm emphasis at the very highest levels within Trina on being to go to the tracker for the APAC region. We are investing heavily in rapidly building the team and in R&D to take a leadership position in terms of technology and innovation so our customers can know how TrinaTracker can effectively help them achieve their energy goals such as increasing energy yield and lowering LCOE.

With regards to LCOE, our modeling has shown that even in high land cost markets with lower direct irradiance resources like Peninsular Malaysia, our bifacial modules on tracker not only can reduce LCOE by more than 4% as compared to mono facial on fixed but through delivering same energy but with a 16% lower capacity system – that means 16% fewer modules, footings, DC cable, combiner boxes, trenches and so forth to procure, ship and install, ultimately resulting in a 6% reduction in overall CAPEX. As such, and in line with predictions from analysts like IHS, we expect tracker penetration in APAC to start growing precipitously in the coming years, especially as module pricing is forecast to remain elevated.

At the same time, in the high wind speed areas of Asia Pacific, we will continue to promote our FixOrigin solution, combined with our high-rated power and longer string module solution, to provide clients with reliability and cost-optimal solutions.

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