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Solar Power NEXTracker's new control system should keep solar power plants safe in all weather conditions

Author / Editor: Erika Granath / Erika Granath

With solar energy playing an increasing role in power supply, it is even more important to secure these critical infrastructure sites effectively. NEXTracker™ has released a new smart control system for power plants.

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NEXTracker commissioning field expert using NX Navigator control and monitoring software on solar power plant.
NEXTracker commissioning field expert using NX Navigator control and monitoring software on solar power plant.
(Source: (c) NEXTracker)

Solar energy is projected to climb from 11 percent of total U.S. renewable generation in 2017 to 48 percent by 2050, making it the fastest-growing electricity source, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Solar farms are often isolated, unmanned sites dispersed over large geographical areas, making remote supervision the most suitable option. Prevention of unauthorized access, vandalism, and theft are key concerns in safeguarding costly investments in photovoltaic technology. NEXTracker™ recently launched the new smart control system NX Navigator™ to tackle this very problem. The smart control system enables power plant operators to efficiently monitor and securely control their solar assets for increased production and reliable operation in all weathers.

With an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), NX Navigator builds on the NEXTracker™'s proven TrueCapture™ system with new monitoring data, maintenance controls, and instant risk avoidance tools.

NX Navigator enables plant operator to both monitor and control their solar assets

NX Navigator has advanced features for both monitoring and control. For monitoring, plant operators are provided timely information for key parameters at the site, subfield, and individual tracker levels, including precise array and angular values. For control, NX Navigator allows authorized photovoltaic plant operators to schedule maintenance operations such as cleaning and mowing, and instantly command the tracker for extreme weather events such as hail, hurricanes, and heavy snow.

Keeping the solar plant safe in all weathers

In the case of hail, a single operator through command NX Navigator will quickly put the entire solar power array to a safe 60-degree stow angle. The action can triple the hail resistance module toughness and dramatically reducing damage potential.

"Using our calibrated hail cannon, RETC empirically validated that NX Navigator's hail stow feature tripled the mechanical impact durability of solar panels," said Cherif Kedir, President and CEO of RETC (Renewable Energy Test Center) at the time of the release.

"Smart advanced control systems such as those pioneered by NEXTracker will be increasingly important to mitigate the growing occurrence of extreme weather events."

NX Navigator does, however, not only help operators keep their solar assets stand against hails more efficiently. In the case of snow shed, an authorized operator can preschedule two snow shed operations in a single day, which increases production by reducing snow cover on solar panels.

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