How Solar Trackers Reduce LCOE for Utility-Scale Solar Projects

April 30, 2024
By Editorial Team
As the world shifts towards renewable energy sources to combat climate change, solar power has emerged as a leading contender in the race for clean energy dominance. For utility-scale solar projects, one key metric stands out in determining their viability: the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE).    LCOE reflects the lifetime cost of generating electricity from a solar installation, encompassing factors such as the initial investment, operational expenses, and energy output over time. In this article, we delve into the pivotal role that solar trackers play in reducing LCOE and enhancing the efficiency of utility-scale solar projects.

What Exactly Is LCOE?

LCOE is a metric used to assess the lifetime cost of generating electricity from a particular source, typically expressed in terms of dollars per megawatt-hour ($/MWh). It takes into account various factors such as initial investment, operational and maintenance costs, fuel costs (if applicable), and the expected lifetime of the project. Lowering the LCOE is a key objective for renewable energy projects, as it enhances competitiveness with traditional fossil fuel-based sources.

The Role of Solar Trackers

Solar trackers are devices that orient solar panels to maximize exposure to sunlight throughout the day by tracking the sun’s path. Unlike fixed-tilt systems, which remain stationary, solar trackers dynamically adjust the angle and orientation of solar panels, optimizing energy capture. This ability to continuously optimize solar panel positioning yields several advantages that directly contribute to reducing the LCOE of utility-scale solar projects.

Increased Energy Yield

By tracking the sun’s trajectory, solar trackers can capture more sunlight throughout the day compared to fixed-tilt systems. This results in a higher energy yield per installed capacity, effectively increasing the electricity output of the solar installation without requiring additional panels.   Single-axis trackers, in particular, offer significant yield enhancements of up to 35%. While double-axis trackers boast the highest yield increases, single-axis trackers strike a balance between performance, initial investment and maintenance costs, making them an optimal choice for utility-scale projects.

Mitigating Weather Risks and Enhancing Durability

Solar trackers equipped with advanced weather monitoring systems and intelligent stow protocols offer additional benefits beyond yield optimization. They can mitigate weather-related risks by automatically stowing panels during extreme conditions such as high winds, flooding, or snowfall.    The Nevados All Terrain Tracker (ATT), for instance, incorporates features like wind dampers integrated into the bearing to withstand hurricane-force winds of over 90 miles per hour. Moreover, its resilience against differential settlement events ensures long-term durability and reliability, further reducing operational risks.

Eliminating Grading Costs

Traditional solar installations often require extensive grading of the terrain, resulting in substantial upfront expenses. However, true terrain-following trackers like the Nevados ATT offer a game-changing solution by eliminating the need for grading altogether.    The ATT is designed to adapt to diverse terrains, accommodating significant post-to-post angle changes of up to 26%. By bypassing the need for costly grading processes, projects utilizing the ATT can significantly enhance their cost-effectiveness and overall LCOE.

Leveraging Tax Incentives for Added Savings

In addition to operational efficiencies, solar trackers can also amplify cost savings through favorable tax incentives. Recent guidelines under section 45X of the Inflation Reduction Act provide bonus tax credits for trackers meeting domestic content requirements. By leveraging these incentives, solar projects can reduce upfront expenses and enhance financial returns. At Nevados Solar, we offer a robust domestic supply chain to help developers meet these requirements and maximize their projects’ economic viability.

Harness Solar Trackers for Optimal Economic and Environmental Impact

Solar trackers are essential in achieving competitive LCOE and ensuring the long-term success of utility-scale solar projects. By partnering with leading providers like Nevados Solar and harnessing the latest advancements in solar tracking technology, developers can maximize solar energy’s economic and environmental benefits on utility-scale projects. Contact us today for more information.

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Chief Commercial Officer

Jenya Meydbray

Jenya is the Chief Commercial Officer of Nevados, prior to that he co-founded PVEL in 2010 and served as CEO for the past dozen years. 

He developed the first extended reliability and performance test protocols for the downstream PV industry as well as innovative methods of evaluating PV performance for power plant level risk assessment and mitigation. 

Prior to founding PVEL, Jenya was the Senior Quality and Reliability Engineer at SunPower where he designed accelerated test methods for high-efficiency solar cells and modules. Jenya began his career at NASA Ames Research Center’s hyper-gravity facilities. He also served as VP of Technology for Cypress Creek Renewables, a utility-scale project developer.


Rick Baldini

Rick has over 18 years of finance experience across several industries including financial services, insurance, real estate, and construction.  Rick is experienced in building, leading, and advising companies through complex restructurings, business expansion and product development.  

Prior to Nevados, Rick was the CFO for Link Real Estate & Urban Land Co, a real estate investment firm, that Rick led to become the fastest growing private company in Central Ohio.  Rick has also been successful in structuring a multi-million-dollar licensing deal with a public company while CFO at Global Administration Management, a boutique consulting firm in the insurance industry.

Rick is a graduate of the University of Arizona where he received a B.S. in Finance and Marketing.