Keeping solar park on track

Paul Boughton
At LINAK Headquarters in Denmark, a project to use solely green energy sources has been initiated with the purpose of reducing LINAK’s impact on the environment. The first step in this direction has been the build of a photovoltaic park.
The park contains 500m2 solar cells that will provide LINAK Headquarters with approximately 90,000 kWh every year. This equals a total production of 2,700,000 kWh during 30 years or a CO₂ reduction of 1,277 tonnes.
Solar tracking is about making use of the energy of the sun throughout the day. This implies that solar panels track and follow the path of the sun instead of remaining in the same position.
Tracking is a significant part of the new solar park at LINAK; this is not only due to LINAK’s involvement in the business area. Many other advantages have made it self-evident that the park should have a tracking system.
When tracking the sun during the day more yield is obtained from the same PV surface area. This way the energy production of the solar park can be increased significantly depending on weather conditions and on the right positioning of the solar panels.

From 1-6 June LINAK made some tests in the solar park comparing static panels with tracked panels. The result was that 19.8% more energy was generated from the tracked panels.
The LINAK actuators used for the new solar tracking park are cost-efficient in multiple areas. For example, they are easy to install and need very limited maintenance. This cuts down on both operating and installation costs.

Also, the total cost per tracker is lowered due to the actuators’ embedded Modbus RTU where all communication runs through a cable into central master controllers (PLCs). This means that only a few PLCs are needed for the entire solar park.
LINAK actuators’ integrated Modbus communication also reduces the use of signal cables and additional controllers because all vital electronics can be placed in an inverter house.
Furthermore, Modbus communication adds more functionality to LINAK actuators through, eg programmable strokes, adjustable current limits and speed regulation. Service data about temperature or current consumption can also be retrieved through Modbus.
On January 2010, the idea of building the solar park at LINAK A/S headquarters was conceived. Three tracker concepts were chosen for the park and three single axis types installed in order to display different tracking solutions and show LINAK actuators in operation.
In mid-September 2010, the foundation for the solar park was completed. During the following period, 28 trackers and solar panels were installed.
Inverters and panel movements were then adjusted in order to ensure effective tracking of the sun and optimise the yield of the solar park.
Through a separate power meter, it is possible to measure the produced power from the solar park at LINAK Headquarters.

Since the park began its energy production on 1 February 2011, it has produced more than 47,000KwH. This constitutes more than half of its expected annual power generation.

Alone during the month of April 12,892 Kwh or 3.3 per ,cent of the headquarters’ power consumption was delivered by the solar park.
At LINAK the whole process of planning and building the new photovoltaic park has added to the solar tracking knowledge level. Particularly calculating the position of the sun and transferring it into the actuators’ position has been educational.
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