Soltec to launch world’s first bifacial tracking evaluation center

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Spanish manufacturer and supplier of horizontal single-axis solar trackers Soltec is opening a new research and evaluation center in the city of Livermore, California, where the company has its U.S. headquarters.

The mission of Soltec’s Bifacial Tracking Evaluation Center (BiTEC) is to perform rigorous assessment of installation and control-parameter influences on bifacial tracking performance compared to other bifacial PV applications. Soltec is investigating specific factors known to influence production, such as module mounting height above grade; rear-side obstructions that cause shading and losses; and varying inter-row spacing distances to measure the effect on albedo.

“Some variables – such as diffuse irradiance or module mounting height – which are often considered of minor importance in standard module applications, can have a much more significant influence in bifacial applications in [terms of maximizing] yield,” says Javier Guerrero Ph.D, Soltec’s R&D Manager USA, who oversees the BiTEC project.

Soltec and BiTEC can count on the collaboration of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to assist in the application of simulation models. Soltec is also collaborating with engineering powerhouse Black & Veatch and certification and bankability laboratory the Renewable Energy Test Center (RETC), to utilize the BiTEC resources in their joint Bifacial Characterization and Ranking Initiative, which is aimed at assessing performance gains and validating performance models on bifacial modules from global manufacturers.

“We endorse collaborative learning and knowledge sharing with the goal of increasing the success of our customers with our agile and yield-dense tracker application,” said Soltec CEO Raúl Morales. “Soltec is receptive to partnering with PV industry entities to take advantage of the BiTEC installation, whereby those entities will not need to set up their own bifacial testbeds.”

Bifacial tracking was implemented for the first time by Soltec in 2015 at La Silla, high in Chile’s Atacama Desert.