Wind testing, specifications in focus as tracker deployment surges


The continued growth of bifacial technology and the maturity of tracking technology has seen single-axis tracking deployed widely, with some data indicating that upwards of 70-80% of utility scale PV projects currently under development in Australia are deploying trackers. However, with the rapid rollout of any technology there can be growing pains. Increasingly, concerns have been raised that some tracker architectures are not suitable for locations where there are either strong winds or sustained wind loads.

Simon Hughes, a partner at Everoze, a European technical and commercial energy consultancy says that importance of “aeroelastic effects” is rapidly becoming better understood by EPCs and utility scale PV project developers and owners.

“Nowadays some single axis tracker architectures, particularly with a horizontal wind stow, are so slender and torsionally flexible (twisty) that they can self-destruct from aeroelastic vibration before design wind speeds are reached,” cautions Hughes, in a recent article for pv magazine.

To meet the challenge posed by high winds, and to allow investors to have confidence in their tracker system, advanced testing methods are being deployed by some tracker suppliers. Arctech Solar says its advanced method of wind tunnel testing and analysis allows it to design tracker systems to reduce the risks posed by high or sustained wind events.

“Our approach goes far beyond what was formerly done from a wind testing standpoint, taking it to a new level,” says Arctech’s Pedro Magalhães, the company’s director of engineering. He says that testing protocol applied by Arctech to its tracker designs allows for them to be tested for aeroelasticity, through the use of fully flexible tracker models in wind tunnel testing.

Magalhães will set out the testing regime in a pv magazine webinar on Wednesday, October 16. Register free here to join the webinar.

Arctech will present the new testing regime alongside representatives from its partners, David Banks, a principal at CPP in Colorado, and Bernd Zwingmann, a senior engineer at Germany’s SBP.


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