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Solar Carports – Do They Make Sense For You?

Solar Carports – Do They Make Sense For You?

As the adoption of solar technologies becomes more widely accepted, homeowners and businesses are finding new and innovative ways to integrate solar power production into their properties.  One of the newest ideas is the construction of solar carports and solar canopies.  This new innovation has allowed for solar production in already existing applications as well as providing tremendous opportunity for future construction projects.  While a typical carport or canopy provides value in simple shading it is still a one-dimensional benefit that is missing a major opportunity.  This innovation partnered with lower prices industry wide is making solar carports and solar canopies a reality.

What is a Solar Carport?

Solar carports are innovative and highly engineered, but you see versions of them almost everywhere and do not realize it.  If you have ever parked under an awning while shopping, you have parked under an opportunity for a solar carport.  If you have a shaded parking spot at work, you park under an opportunity for a solar carport.  Many homeowners even use carports currently to shade and protect their vehicles.

A solar carport is essentially a static, rigid frame that is designed to hold solar panels and connect to the power grid.  The static nature of most solar carports make them highly dependable and will last for years and years with minimum maintenance, as compared to ground mounted solutions.  Ground mounted solar arrays are quite similar to solar carports in the fact that they both attach to the earth, and they both utilize solar panels that have been angled to maximize production.

One major difference however lies in the land usage.  Ground mounted systems are primarily 3-7 feet tall which makes it hard to use the land beneath it for anything useful.  Solar carports can generate the same amount of power while providing shade for vehicles or coverings.  The land beneath the solar carports and solar canopies is still usable since it has been designed and engineered to be as such.

Benefits of Solar Carports

Use What Is Already There

There are several benefits for the use of solar carports compared to other solutions.  First and foremost is the addition of power generation to an already existing need.  Carports, awnings, and canopies have already existed in standard construction from the beginning of time, and will always be a tool that architects use for various purposes.  Adding the ability to generate electricity from the same feature is easily a benefit.

A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned

Power generation is really the tip of the iceberg of benefits of installing a solar carport or solar canopy.  As the electricity being produced is processed either by the power supplier or used by the producer, there is significant money being saved or credited to the owner of the solar carport.  In many cases and in many states, incentives already exist for the construction of solar carports.  This means that if your company is looking to build a carport, a solar solution will save you money and continue to earn you credit during the lifespan of the product, as compared to a standard carport that is built and just need to be maintained.

Always Throwing Shade

The obvious benefit to any carport is the shading and coverage for rain or inclement weather.  Solar carports and solar canopies will achieve the exact same coverage with the added bonus of electrical power generation.  It also opens the opportunity to Electrical Vehicle (EV) owners to have access to a charging station that is powered by the solar carport array.  These charging stations are very low profile and are a significant fringe benefit to any employee.

Are Solar Carports Right For You?

In the engineering and developing of solar projects, the question often arises “Is this right for me?”.  In the case of solar carports the answer will always be YES.  Since each structure is designed specifically for use on site, they can be designed in any configuration to meet the needs of the customer.  Sizing, placement and length can all be adjusted to fit each site specific project and maximize production within the project.  The fact that land usage is not an issue because you are still using the land underneath makes solar carports one of the next great opportunities in alternative energies.

Want to Learn More?

Sun Action Trackers is a manufacturer of the most affordable solar carports and solar canopy solutions in the industry.  If you would like to learn more about how we can help you reach your alternative energy goals, please CONTACT US today for more information.

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Rooftop vs. Ground Mount Residential Solar Comparison

Rooftop vs. Ground Mount Residential Solar Comparison

                In this article we will be discussing the main differences and possibilities of rooftop and ground mounted solar in residential installations.  There are a number of variables that are in play in either scenario, and being educated on differences and possible issues you can make a better decision when you choose to make the move to solar.  Both installation types have ideal applications but we are going to show you why more and more people are choosing ground mounted solutions for their property.

 

The most widely recognized version of Solar Energy Production

 

Almost everyone has a friend or neighbor that has shown interest in, and has installed some type of solar array on their roof.  They are undoubtedly proud of what they have added to their home and often gloat about energy savings and helping the environment.  They are indeed doing that, and in the past 20 years, they would have made a great decision, but is it the right decision today?  After almost 2 decades of system decay and advancement in technology, what was once the most widely viewed and recognized application of solar is now becoming obsolete in many cases.

 

Keep It Simple Solar

 

The basic idea behind rooftop solar installations is rather straight forward.  Use a roof that is adjacent to the sun, drill holes in it to install racking, and install panels to racking.  This often requires that the roof is facing east/west so that it will be facing the sun’s path over the course of the day.  Any deviation from the perfect east/west orientation will lead to loss of potential energy production in the installation.  Often times as well, there may be some shading in the way of trees, which would also deplete the energy production opportunity of the array.  This means that the same trees that the homeowner relies on to keep the home cooler are hindering the solar potential of the property.

 

Key Issues with Rooftop Solar

 

                Environmental issues such as the ones described above are often times out of the control of the homeowner or are not thought of when purchasing the home.  There are however, a number of key issues with rooftop solar that are at the complete control of the homeowner.  These issues are sometimes immediate, while others are experienced years down the road.

 

Unfit or Unsuitable Roof

 

When many homes were built over the years, they were never built with the intention of putting thousands of pounds of racking and solar panels on it.  Also, coding and building regulations have become increasingly specific and strict over passing years, so it is quite possible that many older roofs are just simply not equipped to handle the load.  Miscalculation of the load levels of any roof could cause it to easily cave in.

 

Drilling Holes into the Roofing

 

There are obvious potential risks with drilling holes anywhere in your roof at any point.  If a roofer where to have to drill into the roofing, they would do it towards the end of a corner where risk of damage was minimal.  When rooftop solar is installed there are spaced holes drilled over the entire roof, weakening the substructure and creating unnecessary risk of leaking in the future.  If a leak develops it could be weeks, months or years before the owner discovers it to get it fixed.  Furthermore, it creates the risk of mold, electrical issues and a host of other risks that would cost a lot more money down the road.

 

Waterflow

 

As we all can understand, roofs are built with the intention of shedding water in specific directions but furthermore away from the home.  Rooftop solar racking hinders the flow of water in many cases and can cause it to collect in areas that were not intended at the time of the design of the roof.  This can cause a number of weaknesses in the structure and if paired with a drilled hole leaking could be catastrophic.

 

Reroofing

 

The average lifespan of a residential house roof is 20-30 years, after which the roofing material needs to be totally replaced.  This includes the weather matting as well as the roofing material.  If there is a solar array on top of the roofing material, then it will obviously need to be dismantled completely before the roofing replacement can even begin.  Also, roofers cannot dismantle solar systems because the are not NABCEP certified contactors, so you will have to call a solar company to come take it down, and replace it again after the roof has been replace.

 

 

New Technology Leads to New Solutions

In the past years, solar technology has exponentially increased and with the development of solar trackers, production increases have reached up to 40%.  Solar Trackers were originally designed for extreme latitudes (furthest from the equator) and were primarily used in the Utility and Commercial/Industrial markets.  In even more recent years, these technologies have been adapted for use in the residential market proving that ground mounted solar trackers could be a viable solution for homeowners.

 

Efficient Solutions for Possible Issues

 

                The use of ground mounted trackers, particularly Dual Axis Solar Trackers have solved a number of existing issues with solar adoption and how they compare with rooftop solar installation.  There are a host of issues that can commonly be alleviated by using a Sun Action Trackers’ DualTrack Dual Axis Solar Tracker.

No Roofing Issues

 

Since the DualTrack Dual Axis Residential Solar Tracker is ground mounted, you alleviate a number of the roofing issues such as potential leaking, weight issues, waterflow and reroofing issues.  The system is also easier to maintain since it is easier to access.

 

Limited Land Issues

 

The DualTrack Dual Axis Residential Solar Tracker boasts a number of benefits that allow for more flexible installation for your solar array.  One major benefit is the bolt cage (mounting system) is only 16” which is encased in a 36” Diameter concrete footer.  This means that you will only have to use about 16 sq ft of your property to mount up to 42- 72 cell solar panels.  The structure also provides shade and with a 12 foot down-post, you can be assured that anything that is and would be beneath it will not be disturbed.  The DualTrack Dual Axis Residential Tracker can also be installed within flood planes and swampy land to further add to its land usage flexibility.

 

Production Increase Increases Opportunity

 

Each DualTrack Dual Axis Residential Tracker is equipped with Sun Action Trackers’ patented Real Time Sensing devices to add 4-6% production compared to astronomical tracking systems, as well as up to 40% more energy collected due to the Dual Axis nature of its design compared to rooftop systems.  With the addition of bi-facial solar panels, you can even increase energy production by up to 60% compared to rooftop mounted solar installations.  Another impressive about the DualTrack Dual Axis Residential Solar Tracker is that it reaches peak production as soon as it finds the sun, and maintains that peak production until the sun goes down.  This means that you will be at peak performance before, during and after peak hours making the absolute most of TIME OF USE rates.  These production increases add significant value to the system overall and will return ROI faster for the homeowner ultimately.

 

 

A Complete Turnkey System

 

Each DualTrack Dual Axis Residential Tracker is a Turnkey System that is ready to be installed.   Every Tracker includes the Tracker Racking, Critical Components, Bolt Cage, Real Time Sensors and Control Box ready to be installed.  Each system can be installed with a telescopic forklift and a crew of 3-5 people.  Sun Action Trackers offers PE Stamps in all 50 states and can ship worldwide.

 

To Learn More about the DualTrack Dual Axis Residential Solar Tracker, please visit us at www.sat-energy.com or call us at 210-302-2141.

 

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Actuator, Community, control box, Dual Axis Tracker, Products, real time sensor, Residential Solar Trackers, solar tracking, 0 comments
Sun Action Trackers Named to Top Solar Tracker Providers Worldwide

Sun Action Trackers Named to Top Solar Tracker Providers Worldwide

In a recent set of reports on the Global PV Tracker marketplace, Sun Action Trackers was named as a key player in the Dual Axis Solar Tracker and Single Axis Solar Tracker markets.

The first report titled “Global Dual Axis Solar Tracker Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast” places Sun Action Trackers among the elite in the space, siting that in the past year the release of our DualTrack Dual Axis Solar Tracker lineup has opened a gap in the market since there is no other solution available that is able to support 24 panels.  Our PST-2AL Dual Axis Solar Tracker holds up to 42 – 72 cell solar panels, with other Dual Axis Solar Trackers holding 12 panels, there was no solution on the market to meet the need in the middle.  The report also highlights Sun Action Trackers as the leader in Utility and Commercial/Industrial installations in North America.

The second report is titled “Global PV Trackers Market Necessity, Current Trends and Future Growth 2018-2023“.  In this report, Sun Action Trackers is noted as a key player in both the Dual Axis Solar Tracker and Single Axis Solar Tracker markets.  The report also highlights the growing need for solar tracking technology in the future due to land usage restraints as well as the increased energy produced by tracking the sun.

We at Sun Action Trackers take great pride in our products and service in the Solar industry and we are so pleased to remain as one of the true innovators in our chosen space.  If you have any questions regarding our products or services, please feel free to CONTACT US today for more information.

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Community, components, Dual Axis Tracker, home news, Press Coverage, Products, real time sensor, Residential Solar Trackers, single axis solar tracker, solar events, solar system benefits, solar tracking, 0 comments
Sun Action Trackers Helps Power Virginia Hospital

Sun Action Trackers Helps Power Virginia Hospital

The Carilion Hospital System recently finished installation and commissioning of a 1.28 MW Single Axis Tracker system to help supplement power needs and to provide provisional power backup for the entire hospital during power outages.  Estimated to produce up to 20% of the hospitals power needs annually, the Sun Action Trackers nanogrid will also offer the hospital cost savings that they intend to pass along to its patients.

“As expensive as health care is, anything that we can do to keep our costs down can be passed along to our patients ultimately,” Bill Flattery, CEO of Carilion New River Valley Medical Center and vice president of Carilion’s western region operations, said.

To view news coverage of the commissioning, please see below:


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Commercial Solar Carport Solutions By Sun Action Trackers

Commercial Solar Carport Solutions By Sun Action Trackers

As the adoption of solar technologies become more widely accepted, many developers and EPC’s are finding new and innovative ways to integrate new projects into their solar portfolio.  One of the newest ideas is the construction of solar carports and solar canopies.  This new innovation has allowed for solar production in already existing applications as well as providing tremendous opportunity for future construction projects.  While a typical carport or canopy provides value in simple shading it is still a one-dimensional benefit that is missing a major opportunity.  This innovation partnered with lower prices industry wide is making solar carports and solar canopies a reality.

Commercial Opportunities for Solar Carports

Many commercial buildings have been built without the opportunity of solar in mind.  As of recently, a number of commercial rooftop projects have launched allowing companies to engage in renewable initiatives.  This has been achieved through various incentive programs, company culture initiatives and cost savings.  These projects however, represent a small percentage overall commercial solar projects due to a number of issues.

Issues With Rooftop Commercial Solar Arrays

Commercial structures often times have an extended lifespan but maintenance is required to maintain the facility.  Many structures are built with the intention that the roof will be used only to drain water from the structure and not with the idea of weight loads.  This means that a number of commercial buildings cannot support the weight of a solar array, with additional concerns arising about water flow to drain the roof properly.

Utilize Already Used Land For Solar

One of the major benefits of solar carports is the dual-use of already used land.  Parking lots are vast and large in space and provide a much more usable opportunity for solar than rooftop applications.  Land that is already being used can be better utilized and made more comfortable by its users by the use of solar carports.  The solar carports provide shade but will also provide electrical production to either cut costs or to provide power for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations.

Incentives Using Solar Carports

Many States Are Already On Board

In the past 12 months a number of states in the U.S. have adopted and executed incentive programs specifically for solar carports.  Maryland currently has a grant program for commercial-scale solar carports and Massachusetts has recently added solar carports to the SMART Program (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target).  There are also national tax credits up to 30% for installation of solar carports for some users (depending on business size, ownership status, minority owned businesses, women owned businesses, military veteran owned businesses).

The ITC And Commercial Solar Carports

The International Trade Commission rulings have been a hot topic in any manufacturing linked business, but there is fantastic news on the horizon in the case of commercial solar carports.  Not only can you get the 30% reduction in cost on the solar panels, but also the structural components, which in some cases will lower the cost below roof-mount systems.  The ITC tariffs also discount the installation of the ground-mounted solar carports which is not included on roof-mount systems.

A Market On The Rise

As the U.S. commercial solar carport market continues to grow, forecasts from even a year ago seem more than conservative.  What was forecast to be a 300 MW market 3 years ago is now over a 1 GW market in North America annually

Some predictions headed into the 2020’s predict that commercial solar carports could become one of the leading sources of solar power generation nationwide.  

Your Trusted Solar Carport Partner

Sun Action Trackers has over 1 GW of solar installations worldwide and continues to innovate and adapt to the solar needs of our growing industry.  Our experienced team offers full-service capabilities including design, engineering, manufacturing and installation with a track record of success nationwide. Each of our solar carport solutions is specifically designed to maximize production based on land specifications, environmental patterns, etc.

Each of Sun Action Trackers’ solar carport designs are engineered to be simple, effective and easy to install.  This simplification allows for cost savings across the board and limits overall maintenance of the solar carports.  Our solutions and installations are so streamlined that we are pleased to say that we are the most cost-effective solar carport solution in the industry.

If you would like to learn more about how Sun Action Trackers can support your solar carport project, please CONTACT US today for more information.

 

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Community Solar Projected To Grow 50-80 Times By 2030

Community Solar Projected To Grow 50-80 Times By 2030

As solar energy components become more affordable, the alternative energy being produced is giving families, businesses and schools a way to lower energy bills and invest in America’s “New Energy Economy”.  A new report released by Greentech Media states that the emerging “community solar” segment could grow 50-80 times its current size by 2030.  Based on those numbers, the community solar market could raise up to $120 Billion in capital investments while serving up to 9 million new solar customers nationwide.

If community solar projects reach the suggested $120 Billion mark, it would surely play a significant role in the alternative energy mix nationwide, and as policy begins to be put into place, financing will become more readily available.

To Read Report CLICK HERE

Sun Action Trackers offers Single Axis Solar Trackers and Dual Axis Solar Trackers for Community Solar Projects to increase production and maximize profitability.  If you would like to learn more about how Sun Action Trackers product offering, please CLICK HERE.

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Community, Dual Axis Tracker, Products, real time sensor, solar system benefits, solar tracking
Bi-Facial Panels on Sun Action Trackers

Bi-Facial Panels on Sun Action Trackers

With a number of current innovations in panel manufacturing along with lowered costs in the marketplace, bi-facial panels are starting to become a viable option for further increased production in solar arrays.  Bi-facial panels are expected to grow into a double digit share of solar panel sales within the year and tracker companies are scrambling to modify designs to fit this new opportunity.  With an average increase of 12.5%, many tracker companies have had to redesign their offering to support bi-facial panels to compete with this upcoming trend.

“With the help of our partners at Mission Solar Energy, we have been testing our Dual Axis Solar Trackers and Single Axis Solar Trackers for years with bi-facial solar modules, and have seen production increases in line with industry standards, and even higher in some cases.”

-Pete Lipscomb, Director of Business Development.

 

The most interesting statistic that most are not thinking of however, is the difference between Dual Axis Solar Trackers and Single Axis Solar Trackers.  With an increase of up to 25% between the two, the addition of bi-facial panels will make an even more significant impact.

The PST-2AL Dual Axis Solar Tracker has produced gains of up to 50% compared to fixed tilt systems with using bi-facial solar panels.  If you would like to learn more about how our Dual Axis Solar Tracker can utilize bi-facial solar technology, please CONTACT US for more information.

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Dual Axis Tracker, Press Coverage, Products, real time sensor, solar system benefits, solar tracking, 0 comments
Rural Community Renewable Projects On The Rise Nationwide

Rural Community Renewable Projects On The Rise Nationwide

A recent report by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is showing significant growth in the rural electric cooperatives across the United States.  The growth can be attributed to lowered costs and greater infrastructure to support these projects, along with aid and partnership from the U.S. Department of Energy through SUNDA (Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration) initiative.

Since the 2013 partnership started, the initiative has grown from 30 MW installed capacity in 2013 to 868 MW installed in 2017.  Additionally, in 2013 the initiative began with just 17 rural coops and now includes just under half of the 900 rural coops nationally.  The installed capacity is set to cross the 1 GW threshold in 2018 or 2019 according to the report.

SUNDA has also given birth to new market segments such as community solar for low to medium income households, and military projects.  The initiative also provided planning and financial toolkits to aid rural community projects to move along smoothly, along with cost sharing programs.

Now The Projects Make Sense

The most important reason for the increase in rural community renewable projects is the drop in prices over the past years.  As per the NRECA report, installation costs per watt in 2014 was $4.50.  The average installation costs per the report today is less than $1.50, making these projects more financially appropriate.  Over this time, infrastructure was also being expanded and built to support such projects.

Funding for such projects is also much easier to find through non-profit organizations as well as fully backed financing resources such as Rural Utilities Service Loans and Rural Utility Cooperative Finance Loans.  Rural Electric Community Coops can also alight with tax equity partners to take advantage of incentives that are not normally available to non-profit entities.

Dual Axis Solar Tracking in Rural Community Renewable Coops

Sun Action Trackers is proud to provided our Dual Axis Solar Trackers all over North America for projects of all sizes in all types of weather conditions.  With up to a 40% increase in production compared to fixed tilt systems, our Dual Axis Solar Tracker will ensure that you are getting the most out of your project.  Each tracker also features our patented Real Time Sensing which provides a host of benefits, as well as our Magnesium Alloy Coated Steel, which is 5-10 time more resistant to harsh environments compared to galvanized steel.

If you are interested in how the Sun Action Trackers PST-2AL Dual Axis Solar Tracker can add value to your rural community renewable solar project, please CONTACT US for more information.

 

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Summer Heat Records Reach Pricing Maximum in Texas

The oppressive heat of a summer in Texas is hard to deny, but in that oppression lies great opportunity for solar production.  As the heat begins to rise, wind begins to slow making solar much more important to renewable initiatives across the state.

In the past two weeks, ERCOT has reported record breaking energy demands state wide matching the record breaking temperatures.  In the past week, they have set a new record peak energy demand of 5080 MW and with higher temperatures expected, that record could be easily broken as well.

This increased demand has driven prices up for solar energy to the maximum legal price statewide of $9.00/kWH (disregarding contractual Power Purchase Agreements) during midday peak pricing hours.

The rise in demand and pricing makes Texas a prime location for your solar project.  It is currently the 7th overall state of solar power installed, while it is the 4th largest market in 2017.  Texas also touts a heavily upgraded transmission system throughout the state.

Sun Action Trackers is proud to have installed over 400mW of Dual Axis Trackers which adds up to over 30,000 trackers statewide.  As demands peak, our Dual Axis Trackers are increasing production up to 40% through our patented Real Time Sensing, adding additional value to each of our projects in Texas.

If you would like to learn more about our Dual Axis Solar Trackers or our projects in Texas, please CONTACT US for more information.

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Sun Action Trackers Carport and Canopy Introduction

Sun Action Trackers is pleased to now offer Canopy and Carport design, manufacturing, and installation.  This new product line features 3 separate fixed profiles and also a Dual Axis Solar Carport that can track the sun while providing shade.  Each project is custom designed to site specifications and with multiple profiles Sun Action Trackers offers the flexibility to maximize production.  If you would like to learn more about our Solar Carports and Canopies, please CLICK HERE to view our product sheet, or CONTACT US today for more information.

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Sun Action Trackers to Exhibit at Solar Power Texas

Sun Action Trackers to Exhibit at Solar Power Texas

Visit us in Booth 114 in Austin!

This week in Austin, Solar Power Texas will be taking place and Sun Action Trackers will be exhibiting our ALL NEW DualTrack product line focused on residential use.  Our new Dual Axis Residential Trackers are designed specifically for residential use with a smaller footprint and our patented Real Time Sensing and MAC Steel.

Solar Power Texas provides solar professionals the opportunity to get exclusive updates, network with other solar pros and to regional insights found nowhere else.  The event will host over 400 attendees and various influential figures of the solar community.  The event will be hosted at the Hyatt Regengy Lost Pines Resort & Spa tomorrow and Thursday.  We hope to see you there!

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in components, Press Coverage, Products, Residential Solar Trackers, solar events, solar tracking, staff team, 0 comments
Residential Solar Trackers by Sun Action Trackers

Residential Solar Trackers by Sun Action Trackers

Welcome to the DualTrack lineup of Dual Axis Solar Trackers

  Sun Action Trackers is proud to announce the DualTrack 16 and the DualTrack 24 Dual Axis Solar Trackers now available for residential use.  These residential solar trackers have been specifically engineered to meet the needs of homeowners all over the world and are ready to be shipped now!  Each DualTrack installation will still highlight our Real Time Sensing and MAC Steel and will generate up to 40% more power per day compared to rooftop systems.

The Most Versatile Options Available

Our DualTrack products have been built in 16, 20, and 24 panel arrays but can also be modified to fit any reasonable sized array up to 42 panels.  Our dual axis solar trackers have also been designed to accept EITHER 72 OR 60 CELL SOLAR PANELS.  This added flexibility insures that the DualTrack lineup can meet the needs of nearly any homesite.

Easy Installation and Setup

  The DualTrack product line was designed to optimize efficiency and ease of use to installers and owners alike.  Since the DualTrack products highlight Real Time Sensing, there is no calibration needed upon completion.  Once the system is turned on, it tracks to the sun immediately and continues for the lifetime of the solar tracker.  Each system includes racking, down post, control box, slew drive, actuator, and bolt cage for ground mounting.  Systems can be assembled in a day (once bolt cage is set), and can be installed with the use of a backhoe.

Learn More About the Most Versatile Solar Tracker Around

Our team would love to speak with you regarding how the DualTrack Dual Axis Solar Trackers can change the way you are thinking about residential solar installations.  Please feel free to CONTACT US for more information today!

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in Actuator, Community, components, control box, Dual Axis Tracker, Press Coverage, Products, real time sensor, Residential Solar Trackers, slew drive, solar system benefits, solar tracking, 0 comments
ITC Steel Tariffs : How are they affecting your project?

ITC Steel Tariffs : How are they affecting your project?

Steel Tariffs Introduced in March for Solar Industry

As many of us know, March of 2018 was a volatile month for the solar industry, as steel tariffs up to 25% were imposed on manufacturers and steel importers to the United States.  In January, the International Trade Commission acting on orders from the President imposed an import tax or tariff on various products including solar panels, which immediately caused a number of utility scale projects to be halted until financial profitability could be once again guaranteed.  As a result of the steel tariffs imposed in March, a number of these utility scale projects are once again put on hold, while companies scramble to make projects profitable once again.

Quality Materials Reign in Utility Scale Solar

On March 22, 2018 the White House announced that it would offer exceptions to the tariffs to Mexico, Canada, The European Union, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and South Korea.  It is said that these exceptions were made due to political/trade relations and QUALITY OF MATERIALS PROVIDED.  As you can imagine, many utility scale solar manufacturers have not only had to completely adapt their supply chain, but also have lost a number of projects because of the use of inferior materials.  Though the tariffs are impacting almost every manufacturer in the US, there are some bright spots to be found.

Where Does the Steel Come From In Your Solar Project?

Sun Action Trackers is one of the only Solar Manufacturers globally that sources our steel from South Korea.  Our Magnesium Alloy Coated (MAC) Steel is sourced from POSCO and is in many ways a highly superior product.  Through UL testing and certification, we are able to prove our products resistance to harsh environments and its self healing capabilities.

We at Sun Action Trackers were pleased to learn of the steel tariff exemption allowed for South Korea.  This exemption allows us to continue to offer POSCO’s superior steel products at an even more competitive price.

-Pete Lipscomb, Director of Business Development

This could mean a possible advantage for your projects by installing a better material at a lower cost than other imported options.  If you would like to learn more about how Sun Action Trackers can help your project get back on track, or to learn more about our Dual Axis or Single Axis Solar Trackers, please feel free to CONTACT US for more information.

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Come See Sun Action Trackers at MIREC Week

Come See Sun Action Trackers at MIREC Week

Visit Us in Booth 59 at MIREC Week

Its that time of the year again, when Mexico and Central America converge on Mexico City for MIREC Week.  This week of renewable focus also hosts the Corporate and Industrial Energy Summit in conjunction with the exhibition.  Over 300 expert speakers will also be sharing insights with attendees and industry experts alike.  This year, MIREC Week will also be streamed live through 6 separate streams insuring that all insights will be documented.  There is also a host of networking and after conference events nightly to engage and foster connections in the solar industry.

Sun Action Trackers is proud to be an exhibitor at MIREC Week and we would love to meet you!  Please visit us in booth 59 for information regarding our new DUAL AXIS RESIDENTIAL models as well as our utility/commercial scalable Single Axis and Dual Axis Tracker offerings.  Our team is ready to speak with you about something that we are very passionate about, and we would love to show you what the future will hold for the solar industry.  More capable, More flexible, and More efficient.

Posted by Sun Action Trackers in component, control box, Press Coverage, Products, Residential Solar Trackers, single axis solar tracker, solar events, solar tracking, staff team
Carefree Operations and Maintenance – Part 2 – Less Is More

Carefree Operations and Maintenance – Part 2 – Less Is More

Carefree Operations and Maintenance - Part 2 - Less is More

By Sun Action Trackers

In Part 1 of our Carefree Operations and Maintenance series, we discussed Land O&M and various solutions to lower costs and minimize financial risk, while maintaining an “eco-friendly” approach.  In Part 2 of our series, we will be discussing the complexity of system designs and how they affect your overall O&M costs over time.  There are a wide variety of issues to take into account when evaluating O&M costs during the lifecycle of your project.  These issues could include such variables as system design, environmental variables and materials used in the project.  In this article we will be focusing on System Design.

Keep it Simple Solar (KISS)

In previous articles, we have mentioned this approach which we have found to be most effective when tackling O&M costs over time.  By focusing on hyper-simple design, O&M costs of systems designed by major manufacturers are getting lower and lower as systems become more refined and efficient.  Though approaches vary widely, there are a number of innovative designs and options for your project.  Sun Action Trackers’ PST-1AX6 Single Axis Solar Tracking solution highlights a number of innovative additions to lower O&M costs initially and for the lifecycle of the project.

Linked vs. Independent Row Designs

Linked Row Solar Arrays or “centralized tracker designs” move multiple rows of solar trackers with a single motor or actuator, whereas Independent Row or “decentralized tracker designs” require 1 motor or actuator per row.  Though the decentralized tracker designs offer some flexibility for land usage, the centralized tracker systems are much more efficient with 25% of the moving parts than its counterpart.  Less moving parts lowers the potential for system failures, while also requiring less time to maintain the system overall.  In many cases, linked row systems will also require “leveling” of each row to allow the systems to work.  The Sun Action Trackers’ PST-1AX6 single axis solar tracker however does not require grading or leveling to make our system work properly.

Figure A

Replaceable Parts

Linked row and independent row systems also differ greatly in the number of motors that are needed to make the entire system.  Figure A highlights an 800Mw project using 8 actuators to run the entire system vs. 28 motors on the independent system as each row requires its own powered motor.   Each row also requires its own control box and sensor opposed to the linked row system that uses 1 control box and sensor for every 6 rows. This means a significant increase of energy usage to use the tracker system, and more moving parts to replace and fix moving down the road.  As another question, Which do you think would require more operations and maintenance attention?  1 actuator and 1 sensor, or 6 motors and 6 sensors?

Figure B

Ground Mounting

Even before tracker construction can begin, the pilings must be poured and secured before steel construction can begin.  Figure B illustrates linked row systems vs. independent row systems.  As you can see, the linked row system only requires 48 pilings per 100 Kw compared to 56 for the independent row system.  This makes a difference in future foundation maintenance and installation time.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to single axis solar tracking: Simple is King.  By limiting replaceable parts that could potentially fail during design and engineering, you will ultimately lower your Operations and Maintenance costs across the board.  Minimizing points of failure is going to lead to a system that consumes less energy thus maximizing total production of the system.  If you want to make your project more efficient, KEEP IT SIMPLE SOLAR.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting in Actuator, component, components, control box, Products, real time sensor, single axis solar tracker, solar tracking, 0 comments
Carefree O&M – Part 1 – Count Your Sheep

Carefree O&M – Part 1 – Count Your Sheep

Carefree O&M - Part 1 - Count your Sheep

By Sun Action Trackers

As Operations and Maintenance becomes a hotter topic in the Solar and Solar Tracking industry, there has been many approaches to lower costs and minimize risk in the design and installation of solar farms.  There have been a wide variety of approaches in each area of solar farm O&M costs and savings.  In this article, we will discuss a practice that is becoming more common amongst utility scale solar farm developers across the country.

Options for Land Operations and Maintenance (O&M)

During the development of utility scale solar farms, there are so many operational parts in motion that if the land had not been graded and trampled, that it will be before the installation is done.  The sites are often left looking bare and lacking grass as the project installation heads near completion.  Not too far after however, mother nature takes over and grass starts growing and spreading quickly.  This creates the need for landscaping services and workers to maintain the acres and acres of property to ensure proper functionality of the system.

The Old Fashion Way

Many developers choose to periodically mow the property which takes multiple days and workers, while creating risks that need not be created.  Some of the inherent risks include but are not limited to:

  • Flying Objects – While mowing properties this vast, it is likely that at some point something will be struck by the mowers. This could be something natural such as a rock, or something left behind from development such as a nut or bolt.  This creates a risk to workers, but also to the solar farm itself, by cracking or shattering panels that then would need to be replaced.
  • Dust/Sand – Mowers also kick up quite a bit of dust no matter what the condition of the soil and property is. This sand and dust settles on the panels, making them less efficient and creates the need for the panels to be cleaned more frequently.

Though this method is widely adopted many developers are looking for alternative methods to lower O&M costs and to minimize financial risk on each project.

Genetically Modified Flora

One of these alternative methods is to plant “low growing grass” which has been genetically engineered to grow to a certain height and stop.  This method has proven to be effective in some areas, but the major drawback is weeds.  As the grass grows, weeds become an inevitable part of the landscape.  Since the weeds will never stop growing, this again creates the need for human intervention on a constant and continuous basis causing a hike in O&M costs. Another option in modifying the landscape is using herbicides and chemicals to keep the grass and weeds at bay.  This option works but it is contrary to the “eco-friendly” passion that renewable energy harvesting is based on.  Though this may be a viable solution, it creates risk to the environment and surrounding areas.

Keep it "Simple Solar" (KISS)

The simplest solution in solar is usually the best.  Systems are designed with minimal moving parts and are highly engineered to maximize efficiency and lower O&M costs.  Why wouldn’t you look for the simplest solution when it comes to land O&M costs?  Many solar farm developers from California, Texas, North and South Carolina and even Europe are adopting a simple and hyper-effective solution that is lowering land O&M costs and providing opportunities for the local economy and is completely eco-friendly.

Send in the Sheep

The aforementioned solution that has been adopted globally is the use of livestock, preferably sheep to maintain your land for you during the harvesting of your solar energy.  Sheep are low maintenance requiring only water and food, which is the growing grass in most solar farms.  States like California and North Carolina have widely adopted this solution and are showing incremental decreases in land O&M costs, while creating a thriving industry for farmers in the local economies surrounding their solar farms.  In North Carolina, there are sheep farmers that will even offer their flock for free for use at the solar farms in return for the free food that their flock consumes.

Environmentally and Financially Symbiotic Relationships

Not only is this method environmentally friendly, but it also creates more revenue through shared resources and legal loopholes.  In many states developers are charged an Energy Tax for the land usage, whereas agricultural land is not subject to the same taxing.  This creates a revenue increase from the partnership between farmer and developer.  It also saves the farmers money due to a seemingly unlimited food source.  The marriage between farmer and developer is truly a symbiotic one as both parties have much to gain, while also lowering costs on both sides.  On the environmental side, both parties are allowing nature to run its course while causing no harm to the land or the surrounding areas.  It also allows the developer to “cut the cord” of reliance on fossil fuels for land O&M, which we are sure that mother nature welcomes.

Not Just a Developer Farmer Relationship

Since the development of these relationships major brands have gotten involved bringing the process full circle.  Whole Foods, a national organic grocery market started selling “solar farm sheep” when it started selling lamb chops of sheep that had been exclusively raised on Solar Farms.  Sun Raised Farms is the name of the company that landed the opportunity with Whole Foods, providing their lamb chops exclusively for the nation’s healthiest supermarket.  The buying motivation for Whole Foods is that the sheep are essentially free range, raised organically in expansive open spaces.

Key Takeaways

Many of the solar farm developers in North America are beginning to use sheep to graze and maintain their solar farms.  The sheep are low cost and even free in some cases, creating a relationship between farmer and developer where everyone wins.  Financially it makes sense to use sheep as there are available tax breaks, unlimited food for the animals and no need to O&M risks by using machinery, human labor, and chemicals.  In Solar Energy Harvesting, simplicity is key to lowering O&M costs and minimizing risk.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting in Community, home news, Products, Residential Solar Trackers, solar system benefits, solar tracking, 0 comments
O&M Comparison on Fixed Tilt vs. Single Axis

O&M Comparison on Fixed Tilt vs. Single Axis

O&M Comparison on Fixed Tilt vs. Single Axis

By Sun Action Trackers

In this short overview, we will be discussing the Operations and Maintenance cost difference between Single Axis Solar Trackers, and Fixed Tilt Solar Array Solutions.  First and foremost, there is not a defined answer to many of the questions surrounding the upkeep time and costs since each system is different, just as each project site is different and so on.  Rather than take a generalized position on these topics, Sun Action Trackers understands that each and every single axis tracker solution that is installed is absolutely unique in and of itself.  In many situations, single axis solar trackers will be the solution that will best fit the project, while dual axis solar trackers may be of better use in other scenarios.  Let’s take a look at some of the hard-pressing questions that surround this area of conversation.

We were recently working with a Developer that asked if the increased O&M costs on a single axis solar tracker were offset by the performance of the array.  In this particular deployment, the answer was yes, making the additional cost justified.  There are a number of factors that are in play in any development project that need to be noted as well.  Some of these factors are:

  • Geography and Topography – Site design
  • Location – level of irradiant light, snow, etc.
  • PPA – How much are they receiving per KWh, MWh, etc.
  • Time Sensitive Matters – Current price of Steel, Copper, and other commodities

In this Developer’s case, it made sound financial sense to opt for the single axis solar tracker system rather than fixed tilt due to the increase in productivity vs. cost to operate and maintain the system.  This then raised another major question being discussed industry wide at this point.  Centralized or Decentralized Movement Systems?  This refers to whether or not each row is joined by linkage or whether each row moves independently of one another.

There are two major sides to this part of the conversation, which are both significant.  Sun Action Trackers offers a linked row system in our PST-1AX6 single axis solar trackers.  This eliminates a large percentage of moving and electro-mechanical parts in comparison to “decentralized” system designs.  By lowering the moving parts, it creates a more stable and efficient system.  This is achieved by linking 6 rows to a single link rod that pushes all 6 rows in unison.  That means 1 actuator motor can run 324 solar panels to track the sun simultaneously.  In comparison, decentralized systems use multiple sets of sensors, separate control boxes and multiple motors which create exponential opportunity for failure.  These “decentralized” systems could also take as many as 4 times the slew or actuators drive motors, sensors and control boxes, to achieve the same output as its centralized counterpart.  As you can imagine, the centralized single axis solar tracker solution offers greater dependability due to less electro-mechanical parts, leading to less potential for breakdown.  With less electro-mechanical parts and motors, centralized single axis trackers will also be easier to find pieces and parts for moving forward since they are built out of mostly existing parts, as compared to some decentralized solutions that offer complex circuitry multiplied by the number of rows installed.   Over time, this will also drive the O&M costs down as the solar industry continues to grow in adoption rates, and investors are more comfortable with this cutting-edge technology.  Innovation will also play a major role as single axis solar tracker systems become even more efficient and streamlined.

With all of that being said, we believe in the application of the KISS METHOD when it comes to single axis solar trackers.  KEEP IT SIMPLE SOLAR.  Less means more.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting in Actuator, component, Dual Axis Tracker, Products, real time sensor, Residential Solar Trackers, slew drive, solar system benefits, solar tracking, 0 comments
Scot Arey Interview – Dual Axis Residential Trackers

Scot Arey Interview – Dual Axis Residential Trackers

Scot Arey Interview - Dual Axis Residential Trackers

By Sun Action Trackers

We sat down with Scot Arey from Solar Cen Tex for a casual discussion about our Dual Axis Trackers in a residential installation.  Scot has installed more than a few of our trackers, and we thank him for his insight and perspective.

 

Posted by Jonathan Bunting in Community, Dual Axis Tracker, Products, Residential Solar Trackers, solar tracking, 0 comments
Simplicity in Solar: Tracking Options Made Easy

Simplicity in Solar: Tracking Options Made Easy

Simplicity in Solar: Tracking Options Made Easy

By Sun Action Trackers

Fixed Tilt Solar Solutions

Fixed tilt, or Non-tracking systems have long since been around and have until recently been the standard installation choice for developers and EPCs alike.  Many adopted this choice due to the cost difference in tracking solutions vs. fixed tilt solutions and the profitability of the installation consequently.  Fixed tilt systems offer some installation advantages, as they can be used in more difficult/ challenging  terrain. Historically, fixed tilt systems are also more adaptable to harsher environments due to lack of moving parts.

Solar Tracking Solutions

Tracking solutions for solar energy collection started to be introduced since the inception of solar, but much like other areas of alternative energy production, the technology was highly expensive and sometimes unreliable.  In comparison to the fixed axis solutions, tracking will produce up to 20%-45% more energy than its non-tracked counterparts, while now finally making sense financially due to cost reductions and rising adoption rates of the technology. Tracked solutions also offer a reduction in D/C capacity which allows for a reduction in BOS, Modules, and additional racking, getting better performance than their fixed counterparts.  In a late 2016 report, GTM Research estimates that tracking solutions will grow from roughly 20% this year to nearly 50% by 2021.  Tracking solutions continue to evolve as well into two sub categories:

Single Axis Tracking

As the name implies, this is a tracking solution with a single hinged axis to track the sun East to West.  This option requires a North-South alignment to maximize the sun’s energy throughout the day.  Compared to a fixed tilt system, there have been various increases shown ranging from 17-23% depending on the latitude and irradiance of the system.

Dual Axis Tracking

Though Dual Axis tracking has been around essentially as long as its Single Axis relative, it has been often overlooked as the most valuable of options when dealing with utility grade projects.  The Alamo Projects in Texas are a great example of this, as there are over 40,000 Dual Axis Trackers in operation today.  This large-scale adoption has led to expansive growth in this market as well, with suited applications in more diverse weather conditions.

In Closing

Fixed tilt and Tracking solutions will both have a place in solar energy generation in the future.  As the technology advances and performance increases, tracking solutions will become the standard for solar energy generation due to higher efficiency and a justifiable cost increase.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our second installment of Simplicity in Solar.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to CONTACT US today for more information on our Solar Energy Tracking Solutions.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting, 0 comments
A Personal View : Simplicity in Solar

A Personal View : Simplicity in Solar

A Personal View: Simplicity in Solar

By Daniel Wilson, Senior Electrical Engineer at Sun Action Trackers

When I was younger and pondering the idea of going to school for engineering, I asked a very successful engineer what I should expect to learn from studying engineering at university. I expected something along the line of “you will be able to fix cars after you graduate” or “you will be better at math”. Instead he told me that I would see the world through a new set of eyes. It wasn’t until I graduated university that I understood what he meant. With fresh new eyes, I now saw the world through the laws of physics, cause/effect and that the most robust solutions are usually the simplest. A simple solution is by no means inferior, rather it simply accomplishes the same task as a complex solution, but in a more efficient way.

At Sun Action Trackers, we know that simplicity in PV tracker design is essential, as these systems will be operating continuously, outdoors for 25+ years. Our Single and Dual Axis trackers all utilize our patented Real-Time Sensor technology that searches the sky for the maximum point of irradiance. Why blindly follow the sun with a program that doesn’t even consider the fact that clouds are between the tracker and the sun, when you could just simply rotate where the energy is actually at? Real-Time sensing is simpler, gives you higher generation, and doesn’t ever need to be calibrated. Trackers have to move, so some type of bearing is integral to the system. Once again, in the spirit of making things simple through ingenuity, we have designed flexible bearings that can account for post misalignment and require zero O&M greasing for the entire life of the project.

All of our trackers utilize low voltage DC motors that are readily available. I have worked for a tracking company that uses hydraulic actuation instead, and I don’t miss having to search for pin-hole leaks on 100ft. long cables, praying that the leak isn’t occurring underground if I can’t find it the first pass. I also don’t miss maintaining pumps, changing the oil, replacing clogged pistons, lines that were never bled properly, or wildlife that somehow makes its way through the an 8ft. fence just to chew on the hydraulic lines. Our Single Axis tracker houses 4x more modules than the leading competitor. This means 4x less control boxes, sensors and motors that need to be maintained over the course of 25+ years. Additionally, our UL3703 certified Single Axis tracker can electrically bond over 320 modules within its structure so that you have 4x less grounding electrodes to worry about installing than with the leading 80-module tracker.

Posted by Jonathan Bunting in Actuator, component, components, Products, real time sensor, slew drive, solar system benefits, solar tracking, staff team, 0 comments