While dual-axis tracking technology is commonly adopted in ground-mounted solar installations all over the world and throughout the United States, there aren’t many of them in the southeast U.S.
“Since they follow the sun wherever it goes in the sky, the energy output with dual-axis trackers can be 40 to 45 percent higher than with traditional solar photovoltaics,” said Tim Hayes, managing partner with Vis Solis, a Tennessee solar developer.
That’s why Vis Solis wanted to get a solid demonstration project installed at the Heritage Center in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The company, which develops, owns and operates solar projects, is currently constructing a 50-kilowatt dual-axis tracking solar system at the Heritage Center.
The system was designed by Vis Solis with support from German agency Deutsche Energie-Agentur and co-financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
“We’ll be able to monitor and measure just how much more productive this installation is than standard solar photovoltaic systems,” Hayes said.
While this isn’t the first dual-axis solar tracking system in the area, it’s one of few and will present a good opportunity to collect data and research to make an argument for growing dual-axis development in the southeast part of the country.
“We’ll immediately start gathering data and measuring it against our projections for the project,” Hayes said. “We expect there will be more opportunity for this kind of solar development immediately.”
The project, which will generate enough electricity to power 15 average family homes, is under construction in an area of the Heritage Center not suitable for other commercial development, Hayes said.
“It was an ideal location for a project like this,” he said.
It will be a high-profile solar project with a lot of visibility in the center of a commercial development on land that otherwise would have sat empty. The installation is expected to be complete and grid connected before the end of the year. Vis Solis will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony in March.