Designing and procuring all the right components for a utility-scale solar project is a complicated process. But simply opting for the first choice or the least expensive option for components can severely undercut the project’s long-term energy production and value. 

Instead of settling for the easiest choice, PV power plant owners, EPCs and developers must ensure all the procured components have optimized compatibility for enhanced interoperability. However, unless this type of procurement process is highly efficient and streamlined, it can bog down operations and turn into a major time and money sink.

Let’s take a look at the problems with suboptimal component compatibility, why optimized compatibility is crucial to success and how Trina Solar’s TrinaPro utility-scale smart solar solution can help. 

Problems With Suboptimal Compatibility

Lack of compatibility exposes EPCs and developer firms to installation risks, like scheduling delays during interconnection, lower-than-expected energy production and, ultimately, less overall project value. Poor installation, along with subpar operations and maintenance (O&M) practices, amount to lost power generation equal to tens of millions of dollars lost annually for utility firms.

The connection between PV modules and inverters, and the racking and tracking mechanisms involved, must all be designed to allow the best possible flow of electricity with the least amount of energy loss. Each of these key components plays a major role in harvesting as much sunlight as possible, and their interplay must be seamless.

Inverters are important for converting solar generated DC voltage into AC to distribute to the grid. The reliability and efficiency of the inverter plays as big of a role in a PV installation’s yield as the orientation, interconnection and quality of the PV modules do. This means EPCs and developers need to ensure optimized compatibility between components, since having the right inverter being compatible with the right PV module will make a major difference in overall system performance and project value.

Identifying Tracker Compatibility for Large-Format Modules

Maintaining share in the utility-scale market requires original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to know if their product will be compatible with the other components of the PV site, like the clamps, tracker, structures, etc. If this compatibility is not observed, it only leads to a more expensive PV segment, due to the higher prices of non-standardized components.

Currently, as the PV industry trends toward large-format modules (LFMs) for improved levelized cost of energy (LCOE), one aspect that EPCs and developers must now account for involves procuring trackers that can support the bigger surface area and weight of LFMs.

Without the proper compatibility, LFMs can turn into a wind sail that can stress the tracker frame and ultimately damage it. Plant owners and developers need to pay special attention to the load performance of the tracking system to avoid this potential wind tunnel risk.

Trina Solar’s entry into the LFM is the Vertex series, which utilize 210mm sized solar cells. In a recently published white paper, Trina Solar outlined how 14 tracker suppliers from around the world have launched tracking systems to match the ultra-high-power 210 modules. These 14 suppliers account for more than 90% of global tracker shipments and have optimized compatibility for fitting Trina Solar’s Vertex modules. Take a look at the 210 Vertex Module Inverter Matching Tool to learn more!

This white paper also noted that compared with monofacial modules with fixed-tilt installation, bifacial dual-glass modules with a tracker system can increase energy yield by about 5% to 30% under different reflectivity conditions. At the same time, the compatibility with ultra-high power modules also enhance tracker value in the integrated systems, achieving 1+1>2 effect with reduced costs and increased efficiency in various application systems.

Guaranteeing Optimized Major Component Interoperability

Beyond just the tracker, all major components of a utility-scale PV power plant need optimized component interoperability to produce maximum project value. This includes the inverters, racking and modules, among other BOS components.

Dealing with dozens of vendors to find the most optimized components for the project can be a long, drawn-out process that consumes a good chunk of the project’s budget. And even after the procurement process, component compatibility might not be fully optimized.

TrinaPro, the smart solar solution from Trina Solar, offers a one-stop shop procurement and design to ensure all on-site compatibility of major components. This reduces the dozens of vendors and suppliers that EPC and developer firms have to deal with down to just a few. It also helps lower BOS and LCOE by improving the overall project value. 

Contact us today to learn more about how TrinaPro helps guarantee optimized major PV component compatibility for utility-scale solar projects. 

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