A winning combination of improved pre-construction modeling, accurately predicted field performance, and energy gains generate additional 2% solar plant revenue
By co-authors Luke Wyant and Defne Gun
Validating the Benefits of TrueCapture’s Split Boost Mode
One reason Nextracker has been a leader in solar tracking technology is our commitment to conducting independent engineer (IE) assessments of our TrueCapture annual performance at real-world, utility-scale sites. This rigorous field validation process is unique in the industry, and it has been critical for proving and quantifying the ability of our advanced software to increase solar power generation as well as project financial returns.
We’re excited to share that our latest IE assessment of Split Boost technology found energy gains of 1-2% or more for projects with half-cut solar modules using our TrueCapture solar tracker optimization software compared to industry standard backtracking, thanks to our new optimization algorithm. But before we get into the details of the results, let’s provide some context on why this round of IE validation is noteworthy.
Why our latest IE test results matter
Last year’s IE report by Black & Veatch provided strong validation for TrueCapture’s original Shade Avoid mode, which has been shown to boost generation from traditional full cell solar modules by 2.21% through precise, independent row-to-row control of tracker angles to minimize overall inter-row shading. Now, thanks to a new assessment by Enertis – a large, well-respected independent engineering firm based in Spain with an extensive track record in both Europe and the U.S. – we can provide the same level of annualized validation for TrueCapture’s Split Boost mode.
Split Boost is an industry-first product introduced in 2021 that takes advantage of the shade tolerance of half-cut cells, which have rapidly become standard for utility-scale solar projects. Independent, row-to-row tracking maximizes the irradiance angle of incidence on the top half of the modules while allowing the bottom half to be shaded, enhancing generation during the “shoulders” of the daily production curve in the early morning and late afternoon. This capability was made possible by Nextracker’s vast dataset of historical tracker performance, which our software team used in combination with machine learning and energy yield simulations to develop the Split Boost algorithm.
Equally importantly, Enertis assessed the accuracy of Nextracker’s pre-construction modeling. This comparison between pre-construction modeling and annualized field-testing performance is monumental, as it proves out the annual modeling that developers use for project financing. We chose to work with Enertis because it is respected not only by the solar industry but also by lending institutions and financiers in both the U.S. and Europe, so their validation will help project developers free up additional capital by credibly boosting projected revenues and NPV with a high level of confidence.
Improved performance – and accurate modeling
For this assessment, Enertis evaluated TrueCapture’s performance at two large, utility-scale solar projects, a >100 MWdc project in New South Wales, Australia and a>200 MWdc project in Georgia in the United States. As both projects utilized half-cut solar modules, TrueCapture operated in Split Boost mode for row-to-row tracking during the shoulder backtracking periods, and in Diffuse optimization mode during periods of suboptimal irradiance. Energy gain achieved with TrueCapture was measured for each project by comparing field-measured inverter data to an annual theoretical model using PVsyst, a solar modeling program used throughout the industry.
For the Australia project, Enertis found that the measured annual gain in Split Boost mode was 1.59%, with a further gain of 0.55% in diffuse conditions, for a total annual gain of 2.14%. For the Georgia project, the measured annual gain in Split Boost mode was 1.05%, plus another 0.72% in diffuse conditions, for a total annual gain of 1.77%. These gains translate into estimated financial returns of over $10.5 million for the Australia project and $7.5 million for the Georgia project over a 35-year lifetime.
Enertis also found that not only did “the measured gains align with Nextracker’s internal modeling practice results,” but that “measured gains are greater than the modeled gains… between each scenario.” This demonstrates that Nextracker’s modeling results are conservative, which is a key attribute sought by investors and lenders seeking to guard against downside risks when financing solar production assets. It also reaffirms Nextracker’s own internal evaluations, which have found that field results generally align with our pre-construction modeling results by a margin of 10%.
Tracking you can trust
By validating the real-world performance benefits of TrueCapture, as well as the validity and conservative nature of Nextracker’s pre-construction modeling, the Enertis assessment proves the value of our advanced software solutions for project developers and investors alike. With 40 GW of projects worldwide installed or under fulfillment with TrueCapture software already, Split Boost promises to improve solar project economics across a wide range of geographies and topologies.
And, as the latest round of our industry-leading, annualized IE field testing – and the first conducted with our unique half-cut cell optimization algorithm – this assessment underscores why Nextracker has become a trusted provider of innovative technology in the solar industry. You can also download our white paper on TrueCapture smart solar tracker yield optimization software here for additional field-proven data validating its role in optimizing utility solar plant performance.
Defne Gun is the Manager, Business Development and Performance for Advanced Software at Nextracker, which includes TrueCapture and NX Navigator™. With her extensive background in solar performance engineering, Defne leads the technical team responsible for facilitating product development, ensuring performance validation, and driving market adoption for Nextracker’s emerging software solutions.
Luke Wyant serves as Sr. Director of Business Development for Advanced Software and Services at Nextracker. In his role, Luke leads Nextracker’s commercial and technical team focused on optimizing project owners’ and investors’ long-term revenue generation, drawing on his fifteen years of experience in the solar and semiconductor industry.