As solar costs continue to decline, unique use cases for trackers will likely gain in popularity, according to a new Wood Mackenzie report on the tracker market.
Half of the new tracker products released during 2019 and 2020 have been geared toward expanding the range of potential sites where solar PV can be installed to include more difficult-to-develop sites, such as those with uneven terrain, high winds or rocky soil. All of the new products released leverage independent row technology.
As the tracker market continues to grow, advances in tracker technology mean that sites that were previously uneconomical for solar are now being developed with trackers.
An expanding market
2020 will be the first year when the tracker market's value will surpass the value of the fixed-tilt market. Between 2022 and 2025, global annual solar installations will average 135 gigawatts. Meanwhile, the global tracker market will see a 45 percent increase in installations from 2020-2025.
Even as the tracker installations rise over the next five years, the overall tracker market value will flatten as prices continue to decline.
Innovations in tracker technology
As it grows, the PV tracker vendor and product landscape is becoming more crowded and diversified. The market saw a number of new entrants in 2019, and eight vendors have launched new products in 2019 and 2020 so far.
In an increasingly competitive market, more vendors are choosing to focus on tracker technology that helps maximize solar output on challenging terrain or in high-wind zones.
Tracker technology is also actively being developed for rooftops, carports, agrivoltaics, fisheries, and floating sites, although these use cases aren’t yet mainstream.
New vendors, new products
Wood Mackenzie's report profiles the new market entrants with products geared toward challenging terrain and weather conditions. In 2019, TerraSmart launched a two-in-portrait product that is designed for use on uneven topographies and can be paired with bifacial modules. Also last year, Schletter reentered in the tracker market after initially launching a tracker product in 2015; its new tracker is designed to handle high wind speeds.
Nevados launched a self-powered tracker in 2019 that is optimal for sites with difficult-to-develop terrain. The company notes that its tracker design follows the natural terrain of the site, meaning there is less need for grading, keeping installation costs low.
This year, Nexans launched a tracker product that targets sites where land is unstable, such as landfills, quarries and industrial wasteland.
More established vendors with products in the category include NEXTracker's TrueCapture software, which accounts for extreme weather events such as hail, snow and hurricanes, and Array Technologies' SmarTrack software, which optimizes yield in diffuse light conditions and on uneven terrain through backtracking.
Sunfolding also has a tracker targeted toward sites with undulating terrain and which limits civil preparation and grading, thus mitigating costs.
As the number of available flat parcels of land in established solar markets dwindle, developers will be forced to expand into uneven terrains or difficult-to-develop sites, while maximizing solar production per square meter. These competing priorities will benefit the tracker manufacturers, as long as they can innovate to meet market conditions.
Wood Mackenzie analyzes the global PV tracker market in more detail in The Global Solar PV Tracker Landscape 2020 report.