2017 has been an eventful year for the PV industry, as the yearly demand will top 100 GW, notably robust demands in emerging markets; half-cut cell and bifacial modules will commercialize soon, and black-silicon cells are posing grave threat on traditional mono-si and multi-si cells. And, how about the whole power system?
Summer Luo, chairman of BIG SUN Group, believes that it's inevitable for PV to combine with other technologies, in order to attain the ultimate goal of 24 hour power supply.
"Industries must upgrade their technologies, to match the progress of the society, the nation, and technology," remarks Luo. For instance, solar panel can be furnished with BIG SUN's iPV Tracker to become a solar tracking system, boosting power generation in daytime considerably. In Japan, hydrogen fuel cell is applied at night, supplementing PV systems, marking a major step toward realizing the vision of around-the-clock power supply.
iPV Tracker Forays Into the U.S. Market
Originating in Taiwan, BIG SUN has witnessed the first solar tracking system it installed in Taiwan operating steadily for five years, weathering the impact of several strong typhoons during the period, with annual power output 30.53% higher than fixed systems on average, even hitting 34% in one year. Average daily output tops 4.66 kWh, a far cry from fixed systems' 3.57 kWh.
|The world's first iPV Tracker has been steadily operating for five years. (Source: BIG SUN Group)|
In line with the idea of seeking technology upgrading, put forth by Luo, iPV Tracker, in addition to continuingly improving basic structure, has developed multiple piles and renovate racks, matching the emergence of bifacial modules. It has been selected as one of top 10 display highlights during SNEC for several years in a row and was displayed along with GCL-SI this year during the show. During this year's Solar Power International (SPI) held in Las Vegas, U.S. in September, iPV Tracker was the only dual-axis solar tracking system showcases on the fairground; it is furnished with First Solar's series 6 (440W) thin-film modules, the first among Taiwanese companies.
According to a study of GTM Research, solar tracking systems boasted 70% market share in the U.S. in 2016, which, though, plunged to 25% in 2017, amounting to 3.125 GW, still a substantial figure, according to EnergyTrend. Judging from his observation at SPI, Luo notes that reception for solar tracking systems in the U.S., one of the world's solar energy leaders, is very high, adding that with single-axis system remaining the mainstream device, dual-axis devices will gain increasing acceptance among operators.
"First Solar has started considering the adoption of dual-axis systems," points out Luo.
|BIG SUN's booth at SPI 2017. (Source: BIG SUN Group)|
Co-display with First Solar underscores inclusion of iPV Tracker into the former's supply chain. Luo notes that thanks to lower temperature coefficient, thin-film modules boast daily average power output 8% higher than traditional c-Si modules in deserts and can be coupled with iPV Trackers, boosting power output to a level 50% more than fixed system, according to tests by BIG SUN's U.S. agent in Utah.
High adaptability to environment, multiple applications
Given multiple PV technologies and applications, power-generation efficiency will be greatly boosted, should differences in environment be taken into account in the design of systems. For instance, due to higher racks and inability of back frame to block reflective light, a result of special design, iPV Tracker is especially suitable for coupling with bifacial modules. Its power-generation efficiency will be especially high, when installed in snow region, above water, on rooftops or ground with reflective paint.
With the rack supporting module 8 meters in length and width and 3.9 meters high, a 40-panel iPV Tracker has space below capable of accommodating eight sedans, enabling it to double as a garage, in addition to beautifying the landscape.
|iPV Tracker and First Solar's Series 6 thin-film solar panel co-exhibited at SPI 2017. (Source: BIG SUN Group)|
There is sufficient market potential for iPV Tracker in Taiwan. With the legal coverage rate for PV sheds on farmland or fishing ponds set at 40%, the employment of iPV Tracker can augment power output and income for limited space. The installation of solar tracking systems will enable barren land to produce yields by introducing new agricultural technologies, alongside with iPV Tracker’s function to adjust sun radiation.
For the sake of system stability, wind-proof design is critical for solar tracking systems installed in Taiwan. Luo points out that iPV Tracker boasts excellent wind-proof function, as the frame can be adjusted, arranging the side frame at an angle confronting wind directly, which stabilizes the frame in a windy weather. As a former car engineer, he employs pulley and spring in the design of iPV Tracker, making the panel flexible and capable of maintaining dynamic balance in strong wind, similar to the function of car damper. As a result, iPV Tracker is the only dual-axis solar tracking system worldwide which has passed the wind-proof anti-vibration certification of Black & Veatch (BV).
"Given the capital-, technology-, and talent-intensive nature of the line, players in the field are undertaking integration and only those which complete the integration ahead of rivals can survive the volatile market," remarks Luo. As a result, BIG SUN has invited its customers who have placed orders to subscribe to its capital increment plan and become members of a strategic alliance. Integration and application are necessary to the industry, so believes Luo.