More Than Half of Utility-Scale Solar Facilities Feature Sun Trackers

By Editors of Power Engineering

A new study by the Energy Information Administration indicated more than half of operating utility-scale photovoltaic systems feature some form of tracking technology on order to increase electricity generation.

What’s more, tracking technology is more likely to be installed in the southwest, where solar resources are more favorable. Only 37 percent of solar units west of the Mississippi River are fixed-tilt. By contrast, 80 percent of fixed-tilt solar photovoltaic units are east of the Mississippi River.

The reason for this divide is due to the increased cloud coverage in the eastern United States, which receives diffuse radiation scattered by the atmosphere. Diffuse radiation reduces the benefits of tracking technologies, while direct-beam radiation benefits greatly by tracking.

Tracking systems tend to be more expensive and require more acreage, but also produce more electricity.