Penetrating the Japanese solar market can be a difficult task for overseas companies, especially for the downstream sector that requires localized services. However, Taiwanese company BIG SUN Group has achieved this with its solar tracking system -- iPV Tracker.
This past winter, a testing demo site localized in Japan generated 44% more power than the conventional system. This overwhelming power generating advantage has attracted major customers' attention.
BIG SUN participated in PV SYSTEM EXPO 2017 held in Tokyo, Japan. Amid many racking system displays, umbrella-shape iPV Tracker stood out in the expo and attracted quite a lot of visitors to stay at the booth. In the mode of "snow removal," iPV Tracker will change its angle about once per minute. The panel can be tilted to a slope that is great enough to make accumulated snow drop from it. The movement is strong enough to push away nearby piled-up snow, in order to ensure the modules' day-time operation efficiency without being interfered.
According to Mac Nakamura, a director of ArchEnergy Technology (BIG SUN's partner in Japan), ArchEnergy set up a power plant as a demo site. This site uses two sets of the same modules, the same inverters, in the same location, but with different mounting systems. One system is the conventional mounting structure; the other is iPV Tracker solution.
In the winter (from December 1, 2016 to February 28, 2017), iPV Tracker generated additional 44.01% power than the traditional system that started the testing from the same time. If the duration of comparison is changed to the duration from January 1, 2017 to February 28, 2017, the extra power generated was even higher, at 48%.
"This was merely winter's testing result. If in summer, the result will be even more excellent," said Summer Luo, the chairman of BIG SUN who successfully invented iPV Tracker five years ago. iPV Tracker's summer power generation advantage outshines its winter performance. Therefore, Luo expected ArchEnergy’s demo site will record better result in summer than in winter.
In addition, the mode of "snow removal" will improve power generation in snowy areas such as Hokkaido in winter by over 100% comparing to traditional racking systems, which are easily to be covered by heavy snow.
Five years since the invention, four major breakthroughs have taken place
After Luo invented iPV Tracker, this year is the fifth year. EnergyTrend asked, what were the crucial events during the five years? Luo immediately replied, iPV Tracker had two major breakthroughs in designs of structure.
"First, a breakthrough in the structure design,” explained Luo. “The earliest version of iPV Tracker could only match specific modules. However, the current version can be compatible to all types of modules, and is not limited to particular module manufacturers. Next, a breakthrough of base design. Improved base can match all types of commonly-used construction methods. That was why iPV Tracker's set-up will not be easily confined by any geographic environment."
In PV SYSTEM EXPO 2017, there were quite a lot of mounting structures that can cater to various geographic environments, observed EnergyTrend. Luo explained, iPV Tracker can match commonly-seen foundation structure such as pile driving, bored piling (screw pile), and cement. Therefore, iPV Tracker can flexibly cater to vast plain, rooftop, or hillsides.
With flexibility to adjust to different panel structures and construction methods, and stable & high-efficiency power generation, iPV Tracker has earned many solar project opportunities. On the way of expanding international markets, BIG SUN's third breakthrough was to redesign the iPV Tracker as wireless connected. In such way, the cost of operation and maintenance (O & M) will be significantly lowered.
The fourth breakthrough was the escalation of project scale. Initially, iPV Tracker's projects were mostly at kW scales, but currently there signs MW scale projects. A milestone that the iPV Tracker has established in Japan was the 5.5MW PV project which will be completed by mid-2017 in Mountain Akagisan, Japan.
Speaking of the changes in the Japanese market, Luo did not worry. He said, "even though Japanese market demand is shrinking, our technology will be the future foundation of technology development. Our success in Japan will pave the way for a bright future."
(Reported by Rhea Tsao, chief editor of EnergyTrend; translated by Janet Chen, translator of TrendForce Corp.)