Protect solar projects from Hail with Nextracker’s NX Horizon Hail Pro

By PV Tech



Nextracker’s NX Horizon Hail Pro offers an industry-first solar tracker solution to the threat of hailstorms for utility-scale solar installations. This holistic package leverages Nextracker’s industry-leading NX Horizon solar tracker platform and adds new hardware features, software tools, and optional services to provide maximum protection against hail.

Market & Applications

This hail risk mitigation product is designed for utility-scale solar PV installations, which dominate today’s electricity generation pipelines. According to recent data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, solar PV accounted for over half of all new capacity in the US in Q1 2023; and over the next five years, US solar capacity is projected to nearly treble to 377 GW.

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Hail Pro builds on the proven NX Horizon platform, which has been deployed on over 75 GW of solar installations globally including 17 GW in hail-prone regions. The base features of NX Horizon provide significant advantages against hail, including uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for each tracker row to ensure performance during grid outages, as well as the rapid stowing capabilities of its mechanically-balanced design. This design stows up to four times faster than conventional trackers – a critical consideration given the speed at which hailstorms develop.

Image: Nextracker.

As discussed below, Hail Pro adds to these features to further protect against the unique risks of hailstorms.

Industry Challenges

Sudden hailstorms are a massive threat to utility-scale solar projects, raining baseball-sized globes of ice up to 3” (75mm) in diameter at velocities of over 85 miles per hour (135km per hour) – enough to shatter PV glass and cause millions of dollars in damages. This risk has grabbed the attention of solar developers as well as insurers, who are increasingly asking hard questions about hail mitigation plans for projects in hail-prone regions.

This insurability risk is a threat to the solar industry in some of its fastest-growing regions. For example, one of the most at-risk states in America’s “hail corridor” is Texas, a national leader in solar growth. Texas produces nearly 5% of its electricity from over 18 GW of solar, making it the nation’s second largest solar market – and, according to SEIA, it is expected to lead the country in solar over the next five years with 41 GW of projected installations.

Technical Solution

Hail Pro addresses this risk with multiple layers of protection, including additional resilient design features and rapid response capabilities.

On the hardware side, Hail Pro provides operators with the added flexibility and speed required to mitigate hail risks. Hail Pro features 360° wind structural engineering, allowing operators to backwind the system to the direction of the storm to minimise hail damage without fear of wind damage. Additionally, the number of network control units (NCU) installed onsite are doubled, which further improves system response speed and certainty to ensure that stowing commands are broadcast across the entire solar installation near-instantaneously.

These upgraded hardware features are augmented with advanced software capabilities. Operators can take advantage of Hail Pro’s 360° wind engineering to stow in whichever direction minimises hail damage, including east or west-facing as well as simply stowing to the nearest position in case of sudden events. They can also utilise manual single-click sitewide stowing commands as well as automated stowing responses, with customised stow timing and direction logic based on integrated third-party weather forecasts of their choosing.

Unique Features & Benefits

The Hail Pro suite also includes optional hardware and service features. Projects facing severe hail risks can opt for Hail Pro 75, which boosts NX Horizon’s maximum hail stow angle from 60° to 75° – shown to increase panel glass survival to >90% against 3” ice balls in lab tests. These projects may also wish to take advantage of optional hail stowing during project construction, delivered via self-powered NCUs with cellular communications prior to site power and ethernet.

Finally, Hail Pro offers seasonal and annual hail-stow functional testing support, ongoing system readiness monitoring, and other service add-ons to ensure solar installations are prepared for hail risks year-round. Nextracker’s experts can also provide underwriter and third-party validation support for risk category reduction, helping insurers understand the value of Hail Pro’s comprehensive protection capabilities.


Hail Pro is available today, with a special project launch at RE+ 2023. All features are available for new NX Horizon installations, and many are available as upgrades for existing NX Horizon installations – contact Nextracker for more information.

Nextracker’s NX Horizon Hail Pro. Video: Nextracker.

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