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Performance Indicators for Sun-Tracking Systems: A Case Study in Spain

DOI: 10.4236/epe.2014.69025, PP. 292-302

Keywords: Sun-Tracker, Cinematic Classification, PVGIS, GCR, SPR, PBT, NPV, IRR

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Current PV cells technology takes advantage mainly from beam radiation. In this context the sun-trackers are such devices for efficiency improvement. On the other hand, projected shadows between devices make mandatory to increase the distances between mounting systems. Thus, the land’s capacity for mounting PV panels can be dramatically decreased. This fact conducts us to wonder where the optimum efficient point is. First, in this paper different types of sun-tracking systems are classified according to the movement they perform (cinematic classification). Further, three real PV installations-fixed, horizontal-axis tracking and dual-axis mount tracking—located in the same geographical area in Spain (they are approximately under the same weather conditions) are analyzed. These installations have been studied in order to establish which one is the most efficient and affordable—Specific Energy Production (SEP) and Performance Ratio (PR) analysis. PVGIS solar radiation estimate tool has been used for comparing the theoretical radiation potential on each plant. The land requirements have been considered in the analysis of the Ground Cover Ratio (GCR) and the Surface Performance Ratio (SPR). Moreover, comparing three main financial indicators let us carry out a financial study: Payback Time (PBT), Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR). In the case study, final annual energetic results demonstrate that the dual-axis plant shows a relevant SEP advantage, but if we take into account the land occupied for this sort of devices we find much more profitable the horizontal-axis sun-tracking system, with a SPR value 4.24% higher than the fixed system we have studied. Its PBT is also a 22% lower than the dual-axis tracking installation.


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