NEXTracker Introduces Self-Adjusting Control System For Solar Plants


California-based NEXTracker, a Flex company, has launched an intelligent, self-adjusting tracker control system for solar power plants called TrueCapture.

According to the company, TrueCapture’s technology continuously refines the tracking algorithm of each individual solar array in response to existing site and weather conditions.

Typically delivering between 2% and 6% energy gains, TrueCapture enables system owners and developers to maximize solar system performance and enhance profits for solar power facilities, NEXTracker says.

The company explains that TrueCapture is designed to address the energy production losses solar power plants typically suffer from construction variability, terrain undulation and changing weather. The solution leverages forecast-based tracking behavior algorithms for clouds, fog or haze and row-to-row hybrid closed-loop self-learning that course corrects the panel direction to minimize production loss due to shading and clouds.

Wireless self-powered controllers on the tracker sync with the smart panels and the NEXTracker supervisory control and data acquisition system, connected through Flex’s IoT platform, a secure, NERC-CIP-compliant, industrial-strength connected intelligence platform. From the Flex IoT platform, communication is continually dispatched to control each independent row.

“TrueCapture is our biggest innovation since we introduced independent row, self-powered tracking,” says Dan Shugar, CEO at NEXTracker. “For the first time, advanced machine learning is being applied to unlock the true potential of power plant performance. We are taking a technology that has been around for over two decades and infusing it with intelligence to meet the needs of a new data-driven world.”

According to NEXTracker, TrueCapture advances the yield gains of backtracking, optimized for flat arrays and low diffuse conditions, by incorporating individual row tracking for real-world conditions that have hilly terrain and partly cloudy or fully diffuse conditions.

Further, the company says that TrueCapture’s proprietary smart panel sensors provide real-time shading information on each tracker row. The data is integrated with design parameters and processed by machine-learning software to build a virtual 3D model of the job site.

An intelligent control engine combines the model with the latest meteorological forecast data to calculate and send optimized tracking commands to every independent row. As a result, energy production gets a significant boost and solar power plants see added value, the company says.

Images courtesy of NEXTracker

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