Samuels Engineering faced a utility-imposed 500 kW cap for the amount of solar it could install at company headquarters in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and sought to maximize the energy yield from an additional array. So, to complement an existing 140 kW rooftop array, Samuels chose Mechatron Solar dual axis trackers to support a 332 kW DC carport installation, which began operating on June 1, 2021.
“Because we are owner-operators of 5.5 MW of solar around the country, we wanted to maximize yield, yet minimize the ongoing O&M, meaning fewer structures were desirable,” says Dave Thorne, a project manager at the multi-disciplinary engineering firm, which performs engineering, procurement and construction management for the mining, oil & gas, and power industries, as well as some commercial facilities.
The Mechatron M18KD trackers will maximize the yield at the site because each tracker yields up to 20% more energy than a single-axis tracker, or 40% more energy than a fixed-tilt array with the same number and type of panels. The Samuels array includes 9 trackers with 90 panels each, including 410 W Trina panels and SMA Core1 inverters.
The small footprint of the M18KD tracker, along with its high availability, also will minimize the O&M requirement for the array. Each of the trackers supports 1,830 square feet of solar panels on a single mast, presenting a much smaller ground footprint than single-axis trackers or fixed-tilt design solutions.
Over the last 12 years Mechatron’s patented trackers have demonstrated an uptime of more than 99.9%. The M18KD tracker also has demonstrated a Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) of 3.5 years and a Mean Time to Repair
(MTTR) of less than 8 hours in average. These statistics represent the highest uptime in the tracking industry as well as the lowest maintenance cost over the duration of the project lifespan.
Samuels performed the design of the array apart from the foundations, which were designed by Mechatron. “We needed an elevated solution because of trees, but wanted fewer columns and parking disruption, so after we looked at various designs for solar parking lots, we chose Mechatron,” says Thorne.
Samuels owns and operates 11 PV arrays at sites in Colorado, Hawaii and New York. “A lot of mining clients have a high demand in remote areas, which the Mechatron solution could serve,” Thorne observes. The company also has a commercial architecture group, and “commercial buildings could also use this solution,” he added.