FTC Solar engineered the Voyager+ tracker for large-format solar modules

FTC Voyager tracker site

FTC Solar announced the release of Voyager+, the next generation of its single-axis Voyager tracker, engineered to provide compatibility with new large-format solar modules now entering the marketplace. The large modules entering the market are built to incorporate larger solar cells. With these larger 182 mm and 210 mm cells, the modules can achieve power output exceeding 500 watts. Voyager+ supports these larger format modules and will be able to accommodate multiple module sizes from a variety of solar manufacturers.

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“We are seeing an increasing level of interest around large-format modules and are pleased to introduce this new Voyager line to support our customers,” said Tony Etnyre, FTC Solar’s CEO. “As the industry transitions to larger modules, FTC Solar is ready to deliver tracking systems that are compatible with a variety of module sizes and configurations, while maintaining our two-in-portrait format and industry-leading installation speeds,” he added.

FTC Solar is currently conducting tests at its research facility near Denver, Colorado, and will be evaluating the performance and structural requirements of a wide variety of large-format modules.

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Why this matters

Module manufacturers are ramping up production of 500W modules with 600W modules expected to be deployed in the second half of 2021.  Large-format modules are expected to lower solar project development costs and improve the return on investment for solar developers. According to a Wood Mackenzie industry analysis, labor savings alone could be up to 6%, and energy production per acre will increase, with production gains depending on the module size and technology.

The transition to large-format modules is the next step forward in an industry that has been aligned around smaller standard module sizes for over a decade. The industry’s ecosystem of electrical and structural components has been developed around these modules and standardization has simplified construction, driving overall system costs down.

The new large format modules will continue to drive system-level efficiency improvements, but certain components, including trackers, must undergo design modifications. FTC Solar has been collaborating with module manufacturers to identify and implement engineering changes to support larger modules such as strengthened torque tubes and modified damping technology.

For more on the large-format modules topic, FTC is presenting a GTM webinar this Thursday (Feb. 18) at 2pm ET. Check that out here.

Voyager+ specs

  • The Voyager is a two modules in portrait design (2P).
  • Posts: 7 posts per row (1 drive, 6 typical) with a typical embedment depth of 6 to 10 ft. FTC says this is 60% fewer posts than 1P designs. Together with 40% lower installation time than other 2P systems, this results in lower costs and fewer manhours.
  • Ground cover ratio (GCR) from 20 to 60 percent, 10 degree N/S slope tolerance, and increased megawatt per acre capacity. This means enhanced MW/acre with minimal grading. Wind speed configuration on Voyager+ is v105 mph
  • String architecture: 4 strings per row, up to 30 modules per string 1000V-1500 V Systems 6 strings per row, up to 20 modules per string.
  • Optimized individual row backtracking, multi-row shade optimization, and diffused light tracking add up to 6% to total system output.
  • The 24V DC self-powered drive system with 3-day battery backup requires no auxiliary power or communications systems, while providing data, communication, and power redundancy. Over-The-Air software updates enable seamless upgrades.
  • Warranty: 5 yr drive and control + 10 yr structure, PowerGuard warranty backstop available
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