Reliability and Durability for Mexico's Solar MarketWed, 02/21/2018 - 12:24
Q: How is Mexico’s energy market positioned to emulate the success of PJM Interconnection in the US?
A: In Mexico, there are more drivers behind the solar market, as outlined by the 5 percent CEL requirement for energy consumers, coupled with higher insolation rates. Solar-generated electricity costs less than on the eastern seaboard of the US, which has much lower insolation. These elements are going to make Mexico’s energy market much more successful than the PJM market for solar energy in the long term.
Q: What is your company doing to stay ahead of the technology curve in this market?
A: Array Technologies is a 28-year-old company that began by building a solar concentrated module. Back then, we also developed a tracker for that module and we started selling solar trackers to remote homes, water-pumping stations and for telecommunications. Innovation has been a key component throughout our lifespan. Reliability and durability are the backbone of our product, which has evolved through the years, reaching almost 13GW years of operation. No other tracker company can say that.
DuraTrack HZ v3 is the latest innovation we have developed. We have deployed over 3GW of this product; it is unique in the industry, covered by more patents than any other tracker company. Even though it consists of a single drive with a single motor, one motor drives 1MW of solar panels. In other words, this motor can power two football fields of solar panels. There is a sliding, rotating, articulating driveline that connects every row. By linking up multiple rows, we minimize the number of potential failure points in the system, which ultimately increases reliability and uptime.
Another unique element is that the system does not need to stow flat to survive a windstorm. With this system, through a patented passive wind-release torque mechanism, integrated row by row, it relieves the torque and stops the system from going into unstable harmonic interaction. As such, it is a zero-scheduled maintenance, robust product that customers do not have to worry about for its 30-year life.
Another positive about our product is that it is time-proven. You can go to an 11-year-old solar site, or even older, and see how the product has performed over that period. Our versions build on each other, and v3 is a big change from our v2 product. It also provides you the terrain-following flexibility of an independent row tracker. We call it the best of both worlds, as it delivers the reliability of a linked system with the flexibility of an independent row system.
Q: Do you have any alliances or associations in the works to deepen the company’s foothold in Mexico?
A: We are able to manufacture around 80 percent of our solar tracker in Mexico. We can source a high percentage of our structure here. Being located right across the border, in New Mexico, we share a kindred spirit with the country because of our demographics. We feel like Mexico should be a great market for us. Our company has a patented gold-standard product, manufactured through a cost-competitive model, with high potential for mass adoption in the Mexican market
Q: Will your business come from the long-term electricity auctions or other possibilities?
A: We are focused on providing our solar trackers to existing and future auction winners, as well as PPA holders. We are a technology equipment vendor and thus also focused on developing our supply chain in Mexico, which we actually started long before we began commercial operations in the Mexican market. Also, we are looking at pairing up with companies that can install our products, such as EPCs, so we can offer our customers the full installed solution they need.