Innovative Tech Drives Revenues HigherWed, 02/22/2017 - 16:03
Q: What drove the successful installation of 3.8GW of the company’s single-axis trackers in under a year?
AL: There were three main drivers, namely the impressive growth of the solar industry in the past couple of years, NEXTracker’s aggressive approach to emerging markets such as Chile, India and Mexico, which positively impacted our business, and the recognition by project developers and EPCs that trackers are no longer a risk factor but a tool to boost returns. NX Horizon, our single-axis tracker, is designed to reduce the life-cycle costs of a PV plant while delivering more power than our competitors’ product. This added value is the major driver of NEXTracker’s growth. Our company’s focus is to improve our products and to provide the best services to help our clients increase their project’s ROI and bottom line. In 2016, a report from IHS listed NEXTracker as the market leader in North America, surpassing Array Technologies, our main competitor, by 22 percent. This is one of the company’s biggest achievements of the year.
Q: To what extent is NX Horizon attractive to project developers in Mexico, given its solar resources?
AL: In general terms, solar trackers provide 20 to 25 percent higher production rates than fixed-rack systems, which mean higher revenues through the life span of a project. Also, over the past four to five years the cost of solar trackers has dropped significantly so the use of fixed arrays no longer makes much economic sense in most cases. If you analyze the solar projects that won in the first auction, over 95 percent were designed with a single- axis tracker to meet those competitive Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) while delivering acceptable returns. In Mexico, we consider most regions to be suitable for the NX Horizon. So far we have worked on the Los Santos project in Chihuahua, which was successful, and we have more in the pipeline for 2016, including most of the winning projects from the first auction.
KK: NX Horizon is particularly advantageous when the project has land constraint issues. Our product has been designed to maximize the capacity of restricted locations such as farmlands. By avoiding the use of central drivelines, NX Horizon allows for different row configurations, optimizing land use and power production, which results in better ground coverage ratios. Most of our competitors use a square block that needs to be installed on flat land, requiring a ground grading process that is costly and has negative environmental impacts. NX Horizon has significantly higher terrain tolerance that impacts costs and the project’s viability.
Q: How has Flextronics’ acquisition of NEXTracker impacted the company?
AL: NEXTracker was acquired in October 2015 by Flextronics, a global manufacturing company present in over 30 countries, including Mexico. Flextronics was attracted to NEXTracker and our solutions platform, which the company saw as complementary to its existing products. We expect Flextronics’ expertise in manufacturing and economies of scale to drive part of NEXTracker’s growth in the near future, allowing us to continue improving our products while lowering our production costs. In Mexico, we are taking advantage of Flextronics’ facilities to produce our controllers in Guadalajara as part of our strategy to reduce delivery times by increasing regional manufacturing.