Agrivoltaic facilities, where solar panels are combined with agricultural activities, represent a groundbreaking approach to sustainable energy production. One key aspect of optimizing these facilities is the choice of whether to use single-axis trackers or fixed structures to mount the solar panels.
Recent studies and practical experience have shown that agrivoltaic facilities equipped with single-axis trackers tend to have a lower Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) compared to those with fixed structures. Here’s why.
Increased Solar Panel Efficiency
Single-axis trackers allow solar panels to follow the sun’s path throughout the day, ensuring that they consistently receive optimal sunlight exposure. This leads to a higher overall energy yield compared to fixed structures, where panels remain stationary. Greater efficiency means more electricity is generated for the same investment, which lowers the LCOE.
Extended Solar Panel Lifespan
By optimizing solar panel orientation, single-axis trackers can reduce the stress and wear on panels, potentially extending their operational lifespan. Longer-lasting panels mean lower maintenance and replacement costs over the life of agrivoltaic facilities, contributing to a reduced LCOE.
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Maximized Land Utilization
Single-axis trackers can effectively utilize land that may have variable shading patterns due to nearby vegetation or structures. This efficient use of space ensures that more solar panels can be installed on the same amount of land, maximizing energy production without the need for additional land purchases or leases.
Reduced Energy Storage Needs
The improved energy yield from single-axis trackers can reduce the reliance on energy storage solutions, such as batteries, to maintain a steady energy supply. This reduction in energy storage requirements can significantly lower capital and operational expenses, thereby impacting the LCOE positively.
Adaptability to Seasonal Changes
Single-axis trackers can adapt to seasonal variations in the sun’s angle, optimizing energy generation throughout the year. In regions with distinct seasons, this adaptability can be particularly advantageous, further improving the economics of agrivoltaic facilities.
However, it’s important to note that the choice between single-axis trackers and fixed structures can depend on various factors, including the local climate, energy demand patterns, and the specific crops or agricultural activities being carried out beneath the solar panels. While single-axis trackers may generally offer lower LCOE, there are situations where fixed structures may be more suitable due to their simplicity and lower upfront costs.
In conclusion, the use of single-axis trackers in agrivoltaic facilities is a promising approach to enhancing both energy production and economic viability. As technology continues to advance and experience accumulates, the economics of agrivoltaics will likely become even more favorable, contributing to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.
Universal Kraft is an expert in solar energy, being one of the largest ground-mounted solar companies in Sweden, with a portfolio of over 720 MW under development and growing. In Canada, the company is developing a portfolio of over 2240 MW in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, as well as in Portugal with a growing portfolio of 1000 MW. We also have projects under development in Spain, Brazil and Colombia.
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