Nextracker has launched NX Horizon-XTR, a terrain-following, single-axis tracker designed to expand the addressable market of solar power on sites with sloped, uneven and challenging terrain.
Nextracker began deployment and empirical testing of NX Horizon-XTR at utility scale three years ago, working closely with customers that faced capital expense and construction challenges on project sites with hilly terrain. Savings in the millions attributable to reduced grading and shorter piles has been validated on select utility-scale projects, the company says.
Over 15 NX Horizon-XTR sites are operational, and dozens of additional projects are under design and construction in the U.S. and abroad.
Project developers are increasingly including sites with sloping and undulating terrain to meet the demand for utility-scale solar plants. Land with these characteristics has historically introduced more risk and cost to projects, requiring significant earthwork and longer foundation pile lengths. NX Horizon-XTR’s terrain-following capabilities can reduce grading, minimize steel costs, and decrease project risks.
“NX Horizon-XTR’s ability to follow terrain can significantly reduce earthwork, allowing these otherwise-infeasible sites to become economically and environmentally viable solar projects. Less earthwork means lower upfront costs and improved scheduling. XTR has allowed us to win more projects by making us more competitive in our project bids, while also lowering our impact on the environment,” says Donny Gallagher, VP of engineering of SOLV Energy, one of Nextracker’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partners that has deployed and field-tested NX Horizon-XTR.
“This is a smarter, more streamlined way to build solar on challenging terrain,” states Nick de Vries, SVP of technology and asset management at Silicon Ranch. “There are some things you cannot out-engineer, and in my experience well-established topsoil is one of them. Deploying traditional trackers on sites with varied terrain has required extra earthwork and longer foundation piles, which increases project costs and adds risk.”
“Earthwork is especially painful as it affects a solar project three times: first performing grading, next reseeding the exposed dirt, and later fixing the inevitable erosion and hydrology issues that come from the lack of well-vegetated topsoil,” adds de Vries. “For Silicon Ranch, high-quality solar projects and being good stewards of the land go together, so conforming to the native ground contours with Horizon-XTR just makes sense.”
“A big factor in Nextracker’s DNA is listening to our customers, evaluating their requests, and where feasible, integrating their suggestions into our product development,” comments Dan Shugar, Nextracker’s CEO and founder.
The NX Tracker Technology breaks the paradigm of the “straight-line row” design constraint by conforming to the existing ups and downs of north-south ground slope undulations, so that trackers no longer require installation along a single plane but can follow natural site contours. NX Horizon-XTR builds on the over 50 GW of NX Horizon tracker deployments.
“Over 3 years ago, SOLV (formerly Swinerton Renewable Energy) pushed us to develop a terrain-following solution and the result is our XTR product line. We worked closely with them and project owners to integrate their requirements and complete lab and field-tests of a terrain-following tracker. We offered a few years of exclusivity for SOLV that we executed together, and then rolled out the technology to the global market.”