BIG SUN Group, a Taiwanese solar cell manufacturer that has been a pioneer in the industry for over a decade, developed a dual-axis solar tracking system called iPV Tracker. The product helped BIG SUN differentiate itself from the escalating price war and make entry into the global market. The company also rolled out various types of base and frame structures to accommodate different installation requirements.
BIG SUN Chairman Summer Luo, who led the company through successful transformation, said the ongoing changes and uncertainty in the solar industry indicate that the industry is looking for an equilibrium.
A Point of Balance for the Solar Industry
Energy is part of the infrastructure and government policy plays an essential role in its development. For example, the Taiwanese government has planned to install ground-mounted PV power plants on government-owned agricultural land and allow the panels to cover up to 70 percent of the space. Luo said the policy indicates government support for ground-mounted PV stations and that the government, industry and the public are looking for a point of balance, rather than steering toward one perspective.
“The government needs a balanced policy on solar energy for effective development,” said Luo. “An unclear government position might cause banks to hesitate when making loans to manufacturers, which would be unfavorable in promoting the industry.” Luo believes the government set the coverage ratio at 70 percent to help nourish the land. He said the move shows that the government is seeking to find a common ground between land policy and energy development. For this reason, products like iPV Tracker that can increase the solar energy output per unit of land will become much more valuable.
Most PV systems are connected to the power grid and the owners can receive money through a power purchase agreement (PPA) or feed-in tariffs (FIT) schemes. Therefore, the stability of the power grid and quality of power supply will affect the profits. Luo believes that the existing problems with the grid is just a tip of the iceberg and that manufacturers must be prepared for the unexpected. Luo lauded BIG SUN’s iPV Tracker and its internationally acclaimed quality. The product can generate power from sunrise to sundown to complement the demand curve during daytime, which can relieve system load and increase grid stability. Luo called this concept “grid utilization,” an idea that he has been promoting in the industry.
“The solar industry will find its balance through the periods of turmoil and will continue to evolve on that basis,” Luo said. As to when the industry will find that balance, Luo said it depends on the pace of development in different markets.
|iPV Tracker with new structural design. (Source: BIG SUN)|
The Rise of Large-Scale PV Stations Presents an Opportunity for iPV Tracker
The consideration for improving efficiency and lowering costs is what drove BIG SUN to develop iPV Tracker, Luo said. He added that a good solar tracker can immediately increase power output and can optimize the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) when used with high efficiency solar panels.
As the solar market grows with policy stimuli and the cost continues to drop, a stronger demand ensues. In the U.S., according to EnergyTrend, installations of large-scale PV stations surged after an investment tax credit (ITC) became available in 2016. The number of large-scale installations came really close to those of medium and small scales in Q1 2017 and may rise to the top this year. EnergyTrend observed through market trends that more and more developers in Europe and the U.S. are choosing the iPV Tracker. BIG SUN is also receiving more inquiries about their dual-axis system.
“In the U.S., developers typically will consider using dual-axis systems once they have used single-axis ones,” Luo said. “The successful story of iPV Tracker has convinced more users to switch to dual-axis systems.”
Bifacial modules also made up an important part in the growing demand in solar energy. BIG SUN rolled out a newer version of iPV Tracker for bifacial modules. According to Luo, bifacial systems require minimum shading for modules’ back surface. Because of its higher height, the iPV Tracker provides increased room for reflection. The newer version of iPV Tracker is equipped with an improved frame, which does not block the light when sunrays are reflected onto the back surface of the module.
Meanwhile, to cater to the needs of large-scale PV stations and to lower unit cost, BIG SUN also introduced 40-panel and 32-panel trackers that accommodate 60-cell and 72-cell modules, to help bring down the cost and maintain stable operations and efficient power output.
Showing his confidence in iPV Tracker, Luo said the product is the best solution to solar system. He said the product can optimize the power output and the utilization of the land and the grid. The system also increases sunlight availability for the soil and helps improve ecosystem functions. Just like how Luo put it, the solar industry is looking for an equilibrium. In this changing market, the advantages of solar trackers will become more pronounced and iPV Tracker is ready to take the competition head-on.
(Top photo: PV project in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, using BIG SUN's iPV Tracker solution.)
(Interviewed by Rhea Tsao, analyst of EnergyTrend.)