Nextracker develops solar tracker foundation for challenging terrain

Nexttracker is launching NX Horizon-XTR, a terrain-following, single-axis tracker designed to expand solar power deployment on sites with sloped, uneven and challenging terrain. Nextracker began deployment and testing of NX Horizon-XTR at utility-scale three years ago, working closely with customers that faced capital expense and construction challenges on projects sites with hilly terrain.

Credit: Nexttracker

The solar tracker foundation uses shorter piles and reduced grading on select utility-scale projects. Today, more than 30 NX Horizon-XTR sites are operational in the US and abroad, with others under development.

“NX Horizon-XTR’s ability to follow terrain can significantly reduce earthwork, allowing these otherwise-infeasible sites to become economically viable solar projects. Less earthwork means lower upfront costs and improved scheduling. XTR has allowed us to win more projects by making us more competitive in our project bids, while also lowering our impact on the environment,” said Donny Gallagher, VP of engineering at SOLV Energy, one of Nexttracker’s EPC partners that has deployed and field- tested NX Horizon-XTR.

Project developers are increasingly including sites with sloping and undulating terrain to meet the demand for utility-scale solar plants. Land with these characteristics can require earthwork and longer foundation pile lengths.

“This is a smarter, more streamlined way to build solar on challenging terrain,” said Nick de Vries, senior VP of Technology & Asset Management at Silicon Ranch. “There are some things you cannot out-engineer, and in my experience, well-established topsoil is one of them. Deploying traditional trackers on sites with varied terrain has required extra earthwork and longer foundation piles, which increases project costs and adds risk. Earthwork is especially painful as it affects a solar project three times: first performing grading, next reseeding the exposed dirt and later fixing the inevitable erosion & hydrology issues that come from the lack of well-vegetated topsoil. For Silicon Ranch, high-quality solar projects and being good stewards of the land go together, so conforming to the native ground contours with Horizon-XTR just makes sense.”

NX Horizon-XTR builds on the over 50 GW of NX Horizon tracker deployments. It has already been constructed on over 2 GW of cumulative projects, with more projects under construction or in late-stage development around the world.

“A big factor in Nextracker’s DNA is listening to our customers, evaluating their requests and, where feasible, integrating their suggestions into our product development,” said Dan Shugar, CEO and founder of Nextracker. “Over 3 years ago, SOLV (formerly Swinerton Renewable Energy), pushed us to develop a terrain-following solution and the result is our XTR product line. We worked closely with them and project owners to integrate their requirements and complete lab and field tests of a terrain-following tracker. We offered a few years of exclusivity for SOLV that we executed together, and then rolled out the technology to the global market. As the world races to meet clean energy goals, NX Horizon-XTR opens a new frontier for solar developers to affordably build on sites that were previously cost-prohibitive, while treading lighter on the environment.”

News item from Nexttracker

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