Trackers have taken the U.S. market by storm. A recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) shows that 79% of the utility-scale solar capacity put online in 2016 utilized tracking technology, with trackers increasingly deployed not only in California and the Southwest, but increasingly in the U.S. South and Midwest as well.
However, this is all for large ground-mounted systems. Trackers have been almost entirely absent for rooftop solar, which is consistently installed on fixed racking and mounting systems.
One company is seeking to change that, and today Edisun Microgrids announced a significant milestone with the installation of a 1 MW rooftop tracking system in Oxnard, California. The array covers 368,000 square feet of the roof of a cold storage facility for iconic banana brand Chiquita and utilizes over 2,900 of Edisun’s PV Booster trackers, making it the largest rooftop tracking system installed in the world to date.
And this is just the beginning. In partnership with West Hills Construction, which installed the system, Edisun plans to install 20 MW of C&I rooftop solar projects using the PV Booster system.
PV Booster is notable in that unlike the large majority of trackers deployed for utility-scale solar, it is a dual-axis tracker, meaning that it follows the sun in two dimensions instead of one. Dual-axis tracking systems are inevitably more complex and expensive than single-axis trackers, but also offer higher yield.
Edisun estimates that PV Booster increases energy production by 30% when compared to fixed-tilt installations, due to greater output in the morning and evening hours. Edisun also states that the system addresses many of the challenges that have prevented the deployment of tracking systems on rooftops in the past, including wind loads, with a low-profile, high-strength design.
They appear to have sold West Hills on the system.
“Over the last decade we have explored numerous solutions that promise to optimize rooftop solar at the commercial and industrial scale,” stated West Hills Construction VP Rusty Wood. “PV Booster is the only technology actually able to accomplish this objective, and we’re excited to share it with our customers.”