Nextracker has introduced NX HorizonXTR, a single-axis terrain-following tracker designed to increase the market for solar energy on sites with difficult terrain. Nextracker began testing NX HorizonXTR at a utility scale three years ago. Nextracker worked closely to customers who were facing capital expenditures and construction challenges on projects with hilly terrain. Select utility scale projects have seen savings in the millions due to shorter piles and reduced grading. More than 15 NX Horizon XTR sites are currently operational, and dozens more projects are in design and construction both in the U.S.A. and abroad.
Developers are increasingly including undulating and sloped terrain in projects to meet the demand of utility-scale solar farms. These types of land have historically been more costly and risky for projects. They require significant earthwork and require longer foundation pile lengths. NX Horizon-XTR’s terrain-following capabilities can reduce grading, minimize steel costs, and decrease project risks.
“NX Horizon-XTR’s ability to follow terrain can significantly reduce earthwork, allowing these otherwise-infeasible sites to become economically and environmentally viable solar projects. A lower upfront cost and better scheduling result from less earthwork. 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,” says Donny Gallagher, VP of engineering of SOLV Energy, one of Nextracker’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partners that has deployed and field-tested NX Horizon-XTR.
“This is a smarter, more streamlined way to build solar on challenging terrain,” states Nick de Vries, SVP of technology and 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 and hydrology issues that come from the lack of well-vegetated topsoil,” adds de Vries. “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.”
“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,” comments Dan Shugar, Nextracker’s CEO and founder.
The NX Tracker Technology breaks the paradigm of the “straight-line row” design constraint by conforming to the existing ups and downs of north-south ground slope undulations, so that trackers no longer require installation along a single plane but can follow natural site contours. NX Horizon XTR builds on more than 50 GW NX Horizon tracker deployments.
“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 together with them and the project owners to integrate their requirements as well as complete lab and field-tests of terrain-following trackers. We offered a few years of exclusivity for SOLV that we executed together, and then rolled out the technology to the global market.”