Terrain-following trackers evolving in Australia’s uneven market


From pv magazine Australia

An evolution in single-axis trackers, used in the vast majority of utility-scale projects in Australia, promises to reshape the potential for large-scale solar deployment on farms as well as culturally and environmentally sensitive sites.

In 2021, Nextracker and Array Technologies together commanded 77% of Australia’s “highly concentrated” tracker market, according to Rystad Energy's RenewableCube. Nextracker, the frontrunner in the Australian market, launched its NX Horizon-XTR line in March. Key to the line’s terrain-following capacity is that the XTR trackers work on a principle of being suspended from above, rather than supported from below, Nextracker CEO Dan Shugar told pv magazine Australia.

Its main competitor in Australia, Array Technologies, acquired one of Europe’s major tracker manufacturers, Soluciones Técnicas Integrales Norland (STI Norland), in January. Its terrain-following line, which allows a gradient of 1 degree between piles, is still almost a year away from market, however.

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Out in front, Nextracker showed off pictures at All Energy 2022 of its first completed XTR project at Melbourne Water’s Winneke Solar Farm. The 9.54 MW (DC) plant, developed by Beon, sits on a culturally and environmentally significant site where groundwork had to be minimized to avoid disturbing indigenous artifacts.

“Therefore, a solution to protect the surrounding land from erosion, minimise grading and ground disturbance, and reduce any reseeding time was crucial,” Shugar said. “The project was also a pre-drill site, which made it even more challenging to construct within the cultural and environmental constraints and variances.”

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