Solar energy, the innovation of EGP
Photovoltaic plants are an open-air laboratory for technological innovation, where inventions and prototypes are constantly tested to improve solar field performance.
One of the increasingly common solutions in new generation plants is one that enables panels to “track” the sun’ position during the day.
Called solar trackers, they are systems that enable an increase in energy production when compared to fixed installations, guaranteeing optimal exposure of the photovoltaic modules with respect to solar irradiation.
Despite the widespread use of trackers in the photovoltaic industry today, there is still no tool on the market that optimises the setting of operating parameters during the phase of field testing and plant operation. A significant deficiency that, thanks to “made in Enel Green Power” innovation, is about to be fixed
Our Construction unit, dedicated to Construction and Commissioning for E&C, has created the prototype for an instrument called the Solar Tracker Tester (STT) in collaboration with Alitec SRL, a Pisa company with established experience in the production of precision trackers for concentrated solar plants.
STT is an innovative tool able to measure the actual inclination of the panels, compare it with the optimal curve that describes its position in relation to the sun throughout the day, and identify new operating parameters that can maximise the panels’ energy production.
Strength in Numbers
Tests were successfully performed by Franco Cocca, from the Commissioning unit, on the first version of our STT at the Finis Terrae plant in Chile. Subsequently, in a more advanced version that also evaluates the effects of the inclination of the ground where the strings of panels are installed, at the Ituverava plant in Brazil, currently the second largest photovoltaic plant started by EGP.
“The algorithm of our STT calculates how to intervene on the positioning system of trackers in order to optimise their functioning and increase the productivity of photovoltaic modules.”
Comparing the efficacy of tracking the sun with trackers both with and without the use of STT, we see the advantage that this technological innovation involves in terms of plant productivity.
The results of prototype testing in Chile and Brazil demonstrated that significant improvements in plant energy productivity can be generated through the corrections made to the positioning system. We can quantify this improvement with an average annual production increase between 1% and 3%, compared to no corrections.
An Industrial Breakthrough
As Pasquale Guerrisi, head of the Technical Support unit, pointed out, the importance of the results achieved by the Solar Tracker Tester led us to turn the prototype into a real product and create the industrial version, with a new SW that will allow, in the same system, the installation of various autonomous acquisition units on board the trackers to simultaneously compare the behaviour of different sections of the plant.
“The new acquisition units will be equipped with internal memory, wireless communication and GPS for geo-localization. The data collected will be acquired and processed off-line by a single processing system.”
All future EGP photovoltaic plants that use tracking systems will be tested and optimised using the Solar Tracker Tester, bringing “made in Enel Green Power” innovation to five continents.