Cesar Alberte
International Vice President of Sales
Array Technologies
View from the Top

Optimizing LCOE with Reliable Tracker Solutions

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 17:48

Q: Why should PV project developers rely on Array Technologies’ solutions?
A: PV project prices in Mexico are very competitive. IPPs and project sponsors are working with extremely-adjusted profitability margins. Under these circumstances, products with a lengthy track record that ensure minimal LCOE throughout the life of the contract are critical. Array Technologies’ tracker is backed by 25,000MW years of operation, guaranteeing foreseeable operational costs, with zero scheduled maintenance. It allows our clients to maximize profitability despite thin margins and assists in the design of a solid business plan. Trackers can have significant differences from one company to another, especially in terms of installation and O&M. When analyzing the total costs inherent to a tracker, taking into account acquisition, installation and operation, the differences are substantial. While acquisition costs are within a narrow range, we are 25 percent more efficient in installation costs. Our components do not require preventive maintenance, which removes the scheduled O&M costs associated to the tracker. Developers must consider a comprehensive cost approach when it comes to trackers, beyond solely looking at acquisition costs, especially considering the aggressive prices showcased during the long-term electricity auctions. In a 100MW PV solar park, operational costs throughout the park’s life cycle can imply an extra US$12 million from one tracker to another, and that means US$4 million of higher net present value.
Q: How is Array Technologies navigating the trend toward lower long-term electricity auction package prices?
A: PV trackers are an indispensable component for any large-scale project as they increase generation capacity. Considering the standard life cycle of a PV park with fixed panels, trackers unlock an energy-efficiency factor that goes well beyond the standard 20 percent. In states such as Aguascalientes or Sonora, it even goes as far as 25 percent. In contrast, the extra cost of installing trackers instead of a fixed structure is well below 10 percent and considering the benefits, they are more of an investment than a cost. Array Technologies goes the extra mile by continuously innovating its solutions to decrease acquisition, installation and operational costs for improved profitability. We are working on incorporating automatic cleaning systems, capitalizing on the continuous row architecture of our trackers. Array’s architecture, with industry leading density, is particularly compatible with robotic cleaning solutions. We are also working to increase our already high levels of pre-assembly to provide a plug-and-play version of our trackers that will be even easier to install and completely error-free. As PV trackers are the only mechanical component in a PV system, we have dedicated many engineering hours to designing and incorporating mechanical and structural improvements for zero maintenance and simplified assembly. Improvement is a continuous process and we are already adapting our product to bifacial PV panels, updating our designs and directing research in collaboration with US-based national research facilities to ensure our trackers deliver on the laboratory conditions for efficiency of bifacial modules once operational.
Q: What automated cleaning systems is Array Technologies developing?
A: We firmly believe our company needs to be open to all cleaning solutions the market provides. Renewable energy’s ecosystem, in our view, is an open one, where all different players must collaborate and make our respective products compatible with one another to fully capitalize on the various innovations that different entrepreneurs are working on.
Q: What is Array Technologies’ targeted business niche?
A: We are targeting the two main types of PV plants Mexico offers: the utility-scale long-term electricity auction plants and private PPAs between large energy consumers and IPPs that signed long-term energy supply agreements. Our value proposal fits both segments well.

Array Technologies is the leading solar tracking solutions and services provider for utility-scale projects. Its efficient installation and terrain flexibility coupled with high reliability, durability, and performance, delivers the best project returns.