As debate continues about the merits of 210mm solar PV module technology compared to the smaller alternatives, Trina Solar has reaffirmed its stance that the larger-size modules are set to become the industry standard, announcing on Thursday it had launched two integrated PV tracker solutions in Australia.
Trina Solar, the only major module manufacturer to acquire a tracker company and integrate it as a wholly owned subsidiary, has unveiled the Vanguard 2P single-row tracker and Agile 1P dual-row tracker, both of which are compatible with the 210mm ultra-high power solar modules.
Andrew Gilhooly, head of Trina Solar’s utility solutions in the Asia Pacific, told pv magazine the launch of the trackers is part of an industry-wide move that advances the application of 210mm modules and will help demonstrate their value.
That value was identified in a report released last month by Norwegian renewable energy consultancy DNV GL which found the 210mm modules have the capacity to reduce balance of system (BOS) cost and levelized cost of energy (LCOE).
The DNV GL report says Trina Solar’s Vertex 210mm 545W mono-facial modules can cut the BOS cost by up to 6.3% and LCOE by 5.8% compared with the 182mm 535W mono-facial modules. The report also says the Vertex 210mm 600W mono-facial module performs just as well in reducing BOS and LCOE (5.6%) compared with the 182mm 585W module.
“The modules that use solar cells 210mm in diameter, as compared to smaller cell size, comprise fewer number of cells for high wattage,” Gilhooly said. “Having fewer cells per module also means the string voltage is lower. This in turn unlocks the possibility to run much longer strings, up to a maximum of 40 modules in high ambient temperature locations.
“These longer strings deliver considerable savings in installation labour and electrical balance of system costs through less DC trenching, fewer combiner boxes and so forth.”
Gilhooly said the compatibility with 210mm modules will also raise the tracker’s system value and contribute to reducing project costs.
“Trina Tracker … can accommodate these longer string lengths without requirement for additional structural reinforcement or damping components,” he said.
“With this longer, structurally sound tracker the number of motors and associated drivetrain componetry can be reduced on a per MW basis, delivering a significant reduction in procurement cost for the customer.
“As module efficiency continues to improve incrementally, over time, we see an associated reduction in tonnage of steel required on a per MW basis.”
One of eight major PV manufacturers to have unveiled trackers which are compatible with the 210mm ultra-high power solar modules, Trina Solar said its trackers will also allow integration with modules from other manufacturers and come with a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for real-time data monitoring and analytics to measure system performance.
The Vanguard 2P single-row tracker and Agile 1P dual-row trackers are also compatible with the new, larger-format bifacial modules above 500W.
Trina Solar’s first 210mm module rolled off the company’s production line in early 2020. Since then the product line has been stacked with different large-size modules including the Vertex S 400W, and the Vertex series of 500W, 550W and 600W and beyond.
“Some of our modules that incorporate the 210mm diameter solar cells include Vertex S, which has proven to be very popular in Australia for rooftop residential and installations for small commercial and industrial companies,” Gilhooly said.
“We also have Vertex modules designed for large commercial, industrial and utility-scale projects. These modules too are proving to be top sellers for us in Australia.”
Trina Solar said it expects to have “no less than 50 GW” of production capacity at the end of 2021, the bulk of which will be devoted to 210mm modules.
Trina targets energy storage
Trina Solar’s announcement regarding the 210mm module compatible trackers comes just days after the company announced it had launched a dedicated energy storage unit.
Terry Chen, head of Trina Solar’s overseas energy storage business, said Trina Storage will develop flexible energy storage solutions focusing on front-of-the-meter (FTM) renewables plus storage, standalone projects as well as large industrial and microgrid scenarios.
“The world’s energy infrastructure is undergoing rapid transformation that poses opportunities and challenges. There is already strong demand globally for energy storage products and solutions,” he told pv magazine.
“But the number of experienced, bankable players that can provide professional, high-quality and cost-efficient solutions is limited.”
Trina Storage plans to establish a supply chain of “top players” to deliver its energy storage solutions and will also manufacture lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries as part of the venture.
Chen said the Australian market is among the company’s targets but there are no plans in place for a product rollout before the end of the year.
“Australia as an energy storage market that has huge potential,” he said.
“We see that ‘front-of-the-meter’ (FTM) pipelines are growing in the region. It is definitely on our radar and we would actively pursue opportunities beyond 2021.”
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