Terrain following trackers - TFT

terrain following tracker, cardan, TFT

Silja Stirnimann avatar
Written by Silja Stirnimann
Updated over a week ago

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An exciting recent development in the field of PV mounting structures is the Terrain following single-axis tracker (TFT). Terrain following trackers are a revolutionary technology that can unlock the potential of solar energy on previously infeasible sites.

Terrain following trackers are a subtype of single axis trackers that can adapt to the contours of the land, reducing the need for extensive earthwork and grading. They can lower the project costs and risks, as well as minimize the environmental impact of solar power plants on sites with sloped, uneven, and challenging terrain. Terrain-following trackers simplify pole design as a consistent height can be applied across the installation. They also enable higher power density and energy yield by maximizing the use of available land.

You will be able to generate Terrain-following trackers in the same way as you would generate other Single-axis trackers.

Under Frame and Park Settings, choose a Single Axis Tracker type Frame Preset. Tick the checkbox beside “Terrain following trackers" and input the number of joint gaps/cardan joints.

The terrain-following tracker will be generated with a hinge/cardan at each joint gap.

In Custom piling, you can change the layout of the joints by modifying the number of PV modules in each Group within the Frame preset. Positioning the motor works as well.

You might want to use the option “Place piles at joints” or define the pole distances manually.

Then, open the settings and configure them according to the tracker specs:

Below left without hinge at the motor (no change of angle/tracker slope in the middle where the motor is situated), right with a hinge at motor:

When the option “Generate respecting allowed angles” is not activated, once the trackers are generated, parts that exceed the allowed angles between segments are displayed in orange. This can be seen in the previous screenshot (front view) and the one below (top view):

In the front view, the exact slope angle delta between the segments is displayed:

With or without the pole being placed at the hinge, reference height (park settings) is applied at each hinge:

Should the angle difference be respected in the layout generation, this option should be activated:

Now the height at the hinges can vary (be lower or higher than the reference height) to make sure this limit (8% in this example) is respected:

This might lead to (more) ground grading.

However, reference height will still be applied to both extremes of the tracker as usual:

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