More solar systems were installed worldwide in 2016 than any year to date, and the vast majority of these systems were ground-mount, utility-scale—a trend that is expected to continue for several years. As the solar market matures, developers and system owners are realizing that long-term, operations and maintenance issues can have a profound effect on a project’s financial performance. Savvy investors know that to ensure optimal returns, O&M considerations for all system components must be evaluated as part of a project’s overall economics -well before breaking ground on any project. Horizontal, single-axis trackers (SATs) are now the leading choice among trackers since they can deliver 20-30% more energy without the added cost and complexities of dual-axis tracking or azimuth systems. But many developers have concerns about the presumed costs of maintaining SAT systems. For instance,
- Do the O&M expenses of SATs nullify their incremental energy performance?
- Do SATs achieve a lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE) overall?
- Will parts be available for the life of my project?
- Will my (SAT) partner be viable in the future?
- Will my O&M practice and cost change over time?
These questions and more will be answered by industry leaders whose experience spans California’s farmlands, Brazil’s first and largest solar power plant (Pirapora), and some of the largest U.S. utility-scale solar projects. Marty Rogers of NEXTracker will center this discussion around the O&M cost considerations of decentralized versus centralized single-axis trackers.