Trackers are taking the U.S. market by storm. According to a study by Berkeley Lab, in 2016 79% of new utility-scale solar capacity was mounted on a tracking system, and we have seen no indications that the numbers have gone down since then.
But this frantic growth is also seeing fierce competition. Long-time single-axis tracker market leader Array Technologies has been edged out of the top spot in recent years by NEXTracker. And a number of smaller companies, including European tracker makers, are also carving out a portion of the U.S. market.
Yesterday Array Technologies gave a sign of its resurgence in the U.S. market, announcing a three-year partnership with national solar developer sPower, which also claims the title of the largest private owner of operating solar assets in the United States.
Details are vague. Array Technologies will be supplying its “marquee product”, the DuraTrack V3 tracker, however it is not clear what volumes will be supplied. Array has stated that this will be a “multi-gigawatt” deal, meaning that the company will be supplying at least 1 GW.
“Things move fast and furious in the solar market, and nothing is for certain when things get completed,” Array Technologies Senior VP Jeff Krantz told pv magazine. “We will see where the details land out over the next three years.”
Nor is this an exclusive arrangement. Krantz says Array will be the developer’s “primary” tracker supplier, but notes that sPower’s business model means that the developer may acquire projects with the tracker supplier already designated.
“They do early and late-stage development, so there is some flexibility there as far as flat exclusivity,” explains Krantz.
These trackers will be supplied over a wide geography. sPower is developing projects, mostly solar but also some wind, in 33 states. Array Technologies says that it expects its trackers to be installed in sites in the Southeast as well as the Midwest, which has seen lower deployments of trackers to date.
This is not the first deal between the two companies, and Array notes that it has supplied slightly less than 400 MW of trackers to the developer. Krantz notes that sPower has also been supplied by its competitors, and says that this commitment by a developer and asset owner is a testament to its product.
“Over the course of the last 12 months, the market has taken a real interest in the foundation of the power plant,” notes Krantz.