STI Norland, one of the five largest solar tracker suppliers worldwide, has launched a new system that optimizes power generation in solar tracking plants. This new system, called STI Control, is used for comprehensive control and monitoring of photovoltaic plants equipped with STI Norland’s trackers.
STI Control is comprised of three networked components within a smart process that favors complete system communication. The first component is the System Network Controller, which acts as the heart of the solar plant and communicates wirelessly with all other system elements, being capable to manage up to 200 solar trackers.
The second component is the Tracker Smart Controller, which is installed by the solar tracker motor and uses an astronomical algorithm to calculate the sun’s position and command all solar trackers to position themselves perpendicularly to solar rays. To maximize efficiency, the Tracker Smart Controller uses AI and an inclinometer to calculate a new solar tracker angle in case of shading between adjacent rows. This happens when the sun is low, during the early and late hours of the day, especially in uneven terrains.
Additionally, STI Norland has launched its own smartphone application for wireless connection to the Tracker Smart Controller, thus making the process more user-friendly and accelerating the commissioning and subsequent operation and maintenance of any PV project.
The third component of STI Control is the Intelligent Weather Controller, a self-powered weather station capable to accommodate multiple sensors which gather and send information on atmospheric conditions. It also generates alarms in case of strong winds or snow accumulation, among others. These alarms will cause the system to take actions relating to tracker movement with the aim of ensuring structural tracker integrity.
STI Control uses wireless technology Zigbee, which operates at 2.4 GHz with a larger reach and lower energy consumption, thus ensuring controllers can issue signals even in case of network node failure.
In parallel, the company has internally created a Center of Operations to control, monitor, and collect data from PV plants equipped with de STI Norland solar trackers.
“A hallmark of STI Norland is our customer-oriented nature, as demonstrated by the release of STI Control. This new communication system increases operational margins, autonomy and freedom to adapt to the specific needs to each customer and project”, says Íñigo García Colomo, Electronic Engineer and leader of this project. “The release of STI Control means going a step further to attain optimized solar power plant performance”.