Solar tracker manufacturing comes to East Texas


Nevados, a California-based all-terrain solar tracker company, announced a manufacturing partnership with Priefert Manufacturing, an East Texas family-owned business that has long supplied the ranch and rodeo markets. Priefert has begun manufacturing Nevados’ all-terrain solar mounting and tracking equipment at its 23-acre factory and expects to expand as a result.

Nevados offers the All Terrain Tracker, which is a single-axis tracker that fits to undulating terrain due to its design that integrates the driveline and articulating capability into the same components.

By the end of the year, the company expects to have contracted for enough trackers to supply around 1.5 GW of capacity in the U.S. Jenya Meydbray, chief commercial officer of Nevados said the company is “inundated with opportunities.” He said Nevados is in the “hockey stick growth phase of our life… and we don’t see that slowing down.”

In one deal alone, announced in February, Nevados agreed to supply Ampliform’s near-term project pipeline of 700 MW as well as its longer-term pipeline of 2 GW of projects under development across the U.S. Other Nevados partners include Cupertino Electric Inc., BlueWave, Cogent Renewables, CS Energy, Cupertino Electric, Inc., D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI), Energix Renewables, Nexamp, Primoris Services Corporation, and SOLV Energy.

The Nevados and Priefert partnership is one example of the shift in manufacturing to meet the needs of the rapidly growing U.S. solar industry. The Priefert factory currently employs 900 people in a town of 16,000, with 100 of those employees focused on making Nevados solar trackers. Priefert expects both numbers to grow and plans to nearly double the size of the facility.

“We’ll keep growing the solar until we make up more than half of the employees,” Meydbray said.

While the final rules are still pending on domestic content adders as well as the advanced manufacturing tax credit under section 45X, Rocky Christenberry, vice president of manufacturing at Priefert said they are sourcing U.S. materials and will provide full traceability.

Nevados began its R&D process, winning a 2015-2016 SunShot award from the U.S. Department of Energy. Meydbray said that the proprietary design sets the All Terrain Tracker apart from its competitors, with bearings that allow for installation on slopes up to 37% with slope changes as great as 26% across a foundation. Other unique design aspects include non-continuous torque tubes, shorter pilings, and large tolerances, all of which simplify and speed up the installation, Meydbray said. Top-clamp clips also reportedly help solar modules to align during installation, and accommodate different module sizes. The torque tube and damper designs improve wind performance, which he noted have proven to withstand hurricane-force winds with zero structural damage.

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