Soltec ships 150 MW of trackers to the United States


The company won’t say where its first U.S. tracker shipment is headed, but all indications are that it is Enel’s 150 MW project in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, Spanish tracker maker Soltec announced that it had supplied its SF Utility Single Axis Solar Tracker for an un-named 150 MW project somewhere in the United States.

The details give away a lot here. Soltec has stated that the project presents the challenges of high snow-load, sub-zero temperatures and flooding risks, and that to meet these challenges it created a special pile design and extended the electronic configuration temperature range down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40° Celsius).

Most of the PV projects over 100 MW planned to date for the United States have been in California, the U.S. Southwest and Texas, which have much warmer climates and typically do not run the risk of high snow loads.

In fact, there are few places in the continental United States where temperatures get down to -40°. Chiefly this is the U.S. Midwest, where few large utility-scale solar projects have been built to date.

However, earlier this month Enel Green Power announced that it had begun construction on 150 MW-DC PV project in the state of Minnesota. The Aurora Solar project in comprised of 16 individual plants, and Enel noted the use of single-axis tracking.

This is Soltec’s first shipment into the U.S. market, however the company shipped 320 MW of trackers to solar projects in Latin America in 2015. This gives Soltec an enviable share of a region where utility-scale solar is expected to grow very rapidly.

Throughout the Americas, the market for trackers is growing even faster, as tracking is increasingly favored for utility-scale PV. IHS has estimated that 5.5 GW of trackers were shipped in North America alone in 2015, which is larger than the total volume of utility-scale projects completed in the continent.

And while the North American market remains dominated by companies such as NEXTracker, Array Technologies and First Solar, IHS noted that Soltec and other European tracker makers are making inroads.

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