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KenD

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I am looking for a set of plans for a ground mount top of pole single axis tracker frame. I will be mounting 4 100 watt panels on it. I already have the actuator (8 inch throw) with all the associated electronics including an anenometer for parking in high winds. I cant find anything online that isnt built out of wood. I have access to extruded aluminium for the frame. Anyone have something the made or know where I can get a set of plans?

stmbtwle

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Interesting exercise, but for only 400 watts I doubt it's worth the expense.
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Willie, Tampa Bay
Rick H Parker

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Solar trackers for Photovoltaics is dead. The tracker materials cost more then buying more panels to get the same or more production.
In other words, adding more panels cost less then building and maintaining trackers.  This is why all the plans are in wood. They did the last batch of plans in wood in attempt to make the tracker cost effective.  The economics have been this way for at least 15 years.

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Rick H Parker
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stmbtwle

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There are some commercial arrays that still use trackers, but they are in the megawatt range, where one sensor and drive system can move hundreds of panels. They also have a maintenance crew to keep them operational. For a small system I doubt very much it could ever be cost effective. As panels keep getting cheaper, tracking systems become less and less "efficient". It's all about the money.

Admittedly they are "cool", so if you still want one, get the plans for a wood one and build it out of aluminum. It's not rocket science.

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Willie, Tampa Bay
Rick H Parker

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I know the engineer who name is listed as inventor on the root patent for the solar tracker. He will tell you the solar tracker for PV is no longer economically viable. 

There were arguments back in 2008-2009 that trackers were still viable for one megawatt arrays or larger but, the ones making the argument never produced data to support the argument. I think it was a group of MBAs trying to scrape the bottom of the bottom of the barrel. 

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Rick H Parker
Kansas, USA
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stmbtwle

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Could be... the system near me only went in last year, but the design phase would have been earlier when PV prices were higher. The panels only track east to west, on a horizontal axis. They're all about 5' above the ground, so a technician could drive under them with a golf cart to access wiring, etc. https://www.tampaelectric.com/company/ourpowersystem/powergeneration/bigbendsolar/

TECO is planning another, 500 acre "farm" about 10 mi from here. It will be interesting to see if they track.

I know of an older farm where the panels are laid flat on the ground and secured to steel cables. It's installed over a landfill, so they get a twofer, they have PV and also generate electricity from the methane.

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Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
Rick H Parker

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TECO is planning another, 500 acre "farm" about 10 mi from here. It will be interesting to see if they track.


If they are building on expensive land, they might be able to justify tracking. Putting together a tract of land that big is not cheap.

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Rick H Parker
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stmbtwle

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Mostly they buy farm or pasture land from farmers/ranchers that go out of business. I know that's true of the one in Wimauma. He was selling anyway and TECO was his best offer, simple as that. The land is already cleared and flat.

Tracking systems actually take MORE land than fixed, as there is a shading issue.  So I expect it's a matter of production vs cost, as always.

Hm I wonder if a solar "farm" qualifies for "greenbelt"?  [biggrin]

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stmbtwle

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From TECO, this morning:

[image]
Hello, we have evaluated tracking vs fixed over the life cycle of the systems and have found tracking to be a better value for the long term. We will add tracking to future installations.

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gbwillson

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Reply with quote  #10 
Better value? Cost? Savings? ROI? I wonder if their evaluation of tracking versus fixed included the "cost" advantage of routine maintenance? And how long is the warranty and does it cover a mechanical breakdown for the life of a system?
Greg in MN
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