A Colorado PV park that is said to be the largest agrophotovoltaic research project in the US has been completed with trackers from Solar FlexRack.
The 1.2MW Jack’s Solar Garden installation sits on five acres of farmland and was designed and built by employee-owned cooperative Namasté Solar.
Namasté used Solar FlexRack’s TDP Solar Trackers due to their smart backtracking, which reduces shading across rows and increases energy production, as well as to help overcome the challenge of installing the trackers at different heights to test the impact of various amounts of shade and sunlight on crop growth.
The company opted for the trackers due to their “efficiency, accuracy and versatility, especially given the complex and varied needs of this project”, said Ryan Turnbull, senior commercial project manager at Namasté.
In partnership with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Colorado State University and the University of Arizona, the project will be used to study how best to grow wildflowers, grass, pollinator habitats, as well as crops such as carrots, onions, tomatoes and squash that will be planted this season under the array.
To avoid overly compacting native soil, which could limit the planting of certain species, Namasté Solar avoided the use of gravel and maintained strict drive lanes for heavy equipment.
Solar FlexRack, a division of Northern States Metals, has to date completed more than 2.5GW of PV racking installations across 40 US states and five countries globally.
The company last year expanded its operations in the north east of the US to take advantage of the increasing amount of PV plants that are being developed with trackers.