Double-sided module + single-axis tracker is the king of low cost in the global photovoltaic industry
According to data from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), for developers in most parts of the world, the combination of double-sided solar modules and single-axis trackers remains the most cost-effective option.
A research team simulated the performance of various solar designs based on NASA's radiation data. After comparing with the on-site data, it was found that in the 93.1% analysis area, the lowest levelized electrical cost (LCOE) is the hybrid design combination of double-sided and single-axis trackers.
The new study, published in the fourth volume of Joule magazine in Elsevier, found that the single-axis tracker on 87.9% of the land area (see the table below) is the second lowest in the ten sites on all continents surveyed by scientists.
Indeed, after upgrading from a single-axis tracker to a dual-axis tracker, solar power plants have witnessed performance improvements, with an average capacity increase of 4%. However, the researchers said that the subsequent cost increase of switching to dual axles is very obvious. Therefore, the single axis is still the more preferable option.
The SERIS team stated that the main culprit for the high biaxial cost is the stent structure. If you want these trackers to achieve LCOE benefits, then the support structure needs to be 60% cheaper. For now, they are only competitive in remote areas close to the poles, 70° north of the equator and beyond.
Comparison of Ten LCOE average
Under the leadership of Carlos D. Rodríguez-Gallegos, the researchers investigated four major global solar markets through empirical investigations. From the Americas (United States) to Europe (Germany, Britain, France, Italy), and then to Asia (China, Japan, India, South Korea) and Oceania (Australia), the LCOE data for the 10 selected regions of the study are presented, the United Kingdom and China respectively recognized as the most expensive and cheapest market.
The data provided by the analysis highlights the value of the single-axis tracker. Compared with the fixed tilt system, these devices have increased the capacity of solar developers by 7-37%, and at the same time, their cost has been reduced by 8-29% compared to the cost required to launch a dual-axis tracker.
The SERIS review found that the geographical environment is the main factor that determines the best choice for horizontal single-axis trackers or tilt single-axis trackers. The horizontal tracker can obtain higher solar power in the area closest to the equator, while the inclination tracker is effective in power stations 15° north of the equator and beyond.
The study did not consider the cost of land and still assumed that the developer could afford a site with sufficient line spacing to alleviate the shadowing problem. The researchers said that future research must consider land variables, component inclination, and other factors and examine the combined impact of these factors on LCOE.
Double-sided components are popular, focusing on production capacity data
The scientific community's recognition of double-sided components has enabled the technology to develop rapidly around the world. As pointed out by SERIS, given the decreasing trend of double-sided and tracker costs, the dominant position of the single-sided fixed tilt system in today's solar ecosystem is likely to be shaken.
Other single research results also echo the viewpoint of the progress of double-sided components. Wood Mackenzie predicts that double-sided modules will surge from 5.42GW at the end of 2019 to more than 21GW in 2024. As demonstrated by the PV ModuleTech conference held by Solar Media last year, attention is now turning to actual capacity data.
With the improvement of cognition, there is no sign of weakening of double-sided development. In emerging markets such as Latin America, companies including Enel are turning to double-sided technology and powering large solar projects in Chile (317MW, 181MW), Brazil (608MW), and Mexico (220MW).
Last year, geopolitics also seemed to be tilting on both sides. Prior to this, the United States had excluded double-sided modules from the applicable tariffs on other imported solar products. The government tried to overturn the decision to cancel the exemption for double-sided modules, but it has not been successful so far.