A solar tracker is a device that orients the photovoltaic panels, reflectors, lenses or other optical devices towards the sun. The solar tracker like a solar photovoltaic panel has a lifetime of about 25-30 years.
Nature did it first:
Numerous plants, like the sunflower for example, orient themselves towards the sun during the course of a day. It is a simple, but brilliant principle that can be applied perfectly to optimizing efficiency in solar energy systems. The reason: Photovoltaic modules that follow the sun’s path capture a higher amount of energy and therefore produce decidedly more power than modules in a fixed installation.
In photovoltaic systems, trackers help minimize the angle of incidence (the angle that a ray of light makes with a line perpendicular to the surface) between the incoming light and the panel, which increases the amount of energy the installation produces.
Single-axis systems track the sun east to west as it moves across the sky, allowing them to increase system performance by 20 percent or more over fixed systems in areas of high insulation. Dual-axis trackers angle through both the x and y axes, typically generating about 8 percent-10 percent more energy than single-axis types, depending on location.
Selecting a solar tracker also depends on system
- Electric rates
- Land constraints
- Government incentives
Utility-scale and large projects usually use horizontal single-axis solar trackers, while dual-axis trackers are mostly used in smaller residential applications and locations with high government Feed-In-Tariffs. Vertical-axis trackers are suitable for high latitudes because of their fixed or adjustable angles.