Ground Mount Solar

For Solar facilities located on open farmland and an open

expanse of land, two mounting methods are typically used:

fixed tilt and single axis trackers.


Fixed Tilt Solar Array

One of the benefits of a fixed tilt solar array is the simplicity. There are few moving parts and a static array is the simplest solar array mounting system possible. A fixed tilt solar array often uses two or more modules in profile. Modules are often mounted in landscape which is perfectly acceptable. The posts or piles deployed are engineered for the site’s soil type and specific geotechnical conditions. Many fixed tilt mounting systems are quite similar; however the types of modules can vary. The photo below shows a very popular thin film solar module on a fixed tilt solar project.

Rooftop Solar

This next photograph is a typical crystalline module on a fixed tilt solar module mounting system.

Rooftop Solar

Fixed tilt solar arrays may often be the only solution for locating solar on certain impenetrable soil locations, such as landfills. In these types of applications, solar arrays can be placed on above-ground ballasted concrete piers, an elegant solution when handled by a good technical team; that is, one that can balance technical needs with aesthetic and financial requirements.

Rooftop Solar

Single Axis Tracker

One alternative to fixed tilt solar arrays is the single axis tracker. Its greatest benefit is the approximate 15 to 25% increased energy production that is a result of following the sun throughout the day. A single axis tracker can make sense financially, but these benefits are also dependent on such factors as the site’s latitude and project’s financial structure. For example, solar projects in California which receive Time-of-Use payments from a utility company are usually compensated handsomely for energy produced during peak demand hours. In this specific example the single axis tracker can be a financially sound investment.

Rooftop Solar

Thin film modules are also commonly mounted on single axis tracking systems. Thin film modules are typically smaller in area than crystalline solar modules. Thus, the modules are mounted on a pair of mounting rails on the tracker system.

Rooftop Solar

"Photo courtesy of Array Technologies, Inc."


A single axis tracking solar array requires nearly 20% more land area, due to the moving parts, and additional space to avoid shading the solar modules during peak energy production. Some single axis trackers use a motor on each row of modules while other trackers use a single motor and a mechanical shaft to move many rows of modules.

Summary

There are different reasons for selecting a fixed tilt or a single axis tracker system, a crystalline module or a thin film module. Economics and engineering are the common denominators which usually help make a clear, informed decision. Blue Oak is well versed in both the technologies and the economics behind these products. Please contact us for a discussion around your specific situation.

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