Nextracker LLC has published a first-of-its-kind white paper based on third-party analysis showing how Nextracker's machine-learning software improves utility-scale solar power plant performance. In a series of tests conducted at operational sites, TrueCapture increased annual energy production by hundreds of thousands of megawatt hours per year.
"TrueCaptureTM gains are predictable and bankable, providing asset owners with gigawatt-hours of additional production and millions of dollars in additional revenue," said Dan Shugar, Founder and CEO of Nextracker. "Our trackers come with embedded communication and control capabilities, so we can provide our TrueCaptureTM and NX Navigator control software both to our customers' existing installed fleet as well as their new projects. Split-boost, added last year further enhanced TrueCapture performance."
The white paper, "Enhancing Energy Yields with TrueCapture Using Nextracker's Proven Intelligent Control Capabilities to Optimize Solar Project Financing and Plant Performance," documents the degree to which Nextracker's software plays a critical role in optimizing the solar tracker as well as overall facility performance, by mitigating inter-row shading and adjusting for diffuse light conditions such as cloudiness or haze.
The paper reviewed longitudinal data across three operating projects in California, Georgia and Mexico, whose output averages over 2% in production benefit. At these sites, the performance of TrueCaptureTM-equipped trackers was tested against a set of control blocks using standard backtracking.
"We have evaluated years of global operational data to demonstrate how TrueCapture significantly enhances solar project economics," said co-author Defne Gun, Manager of Business Development and Performance Engineering at Nextracker. "This white paper presents concrete, verifiable proof of the positive impact that TrueCapture has had on solar plant performance."
The white paper includes leading independent engineering firms' validation of TrueCapture's optimization capabilities.
"Our independent analysis at Beacon 5 validated that TrueCapture outperformed the Control group by 2.2%," said Chris Billinger, Principal Consultant, Black & Veatch.
"Recovering tracker terrain losses of 1% to 2% using TrueCapture can really impact a deal—especially if investors are evaluating multiple different projects," said Mark Mikofski, Principal Engineer, DNV.
The software's advanced algorithms leverage Nextracker's independent-row tracking system to boost output. While most other tracking systems lock all solar panels in all rows together, angling every row in an identical direction facing the sun, TrueCapture continuously optimizes the position of each individual tracker row in response to site topography, construction variances, project design and weather conditions. The software can also optimize the latest half-cut cell solar panels, ensuring that the portion of the panels that is exposed to sunlight can enjoy maximum exposure to the available light. Finally, on, e.g., cloudy days, the software understands how to shift all plant panels into configurations that can capture the more diffuse and uniformly angled light in any given sky-dome. This allows for up to 30% better performance on overcast or hazy days.
"Before the full-year validation period was over, we started contracting to have TrueCapture installed on other sites," said James Alfi, Director of Solar Engineering, EDF Renewables.
Nextracker, the world's largest solar tracker company with 60 GW shipped worldwide, has been deploying TrueCapture since 2017. The software is now used on 200 utility-scale solar projects across four continents, representing roughly 28 GW of power-generating capability.
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