Solar power system whether they are solar pv or concentrated solar thermal in nature are able to generate more power if they remain perpendicular to the angle of the sun at all times. In order to do this each panel needs to be able to move in at least on plane using a tracking motor. This dramatically adds to the cost as each panel needs a separate tracking system.
One company Qbotix,has invested their r&d money into developing a robotic tracking system for medium to large solar installations that uses only one drive motor which travels to each solar panel several times a day to adjust the angle to the optimum position.
Conventional tracking systems use metal and concrete materials in sub-optimal fashion. The result is massive and expensive systems that are failure prone and difficult to install. Typically, the material content of all tracking systems is two to three times higher than fixed-tilt systems.
The fundamental reason for sub-optimal material utilization is due to the desire to have each actuation and control system track many panels that collectively comprise a large surface area. The alternative is having motors and control systems for many small trackers, which results in significant actuation costs and low reliability.
The RTS employs a pair of autonomous, mobile robots to control up to 378 kW of solar modules with high accuracy, reliability, and 100% redundancy. The solar modules are installed on the QBotix designed trackers without individual motors and are optimized for cost, strength, durability, and installation simplicity. The robots travel on a rail and adjust each tracker periodically to optimally face the sun.
“With over 80 MW under contract so far and more on the horizon, QBotix is gaining significant commercial traction,” said Wasiq Bokhari, QBotix Founder and CEO
This is a very unique and cost effective approach to sun tracking that would work on any type of solar pv panel.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.