Intelligence and local development: inside the operations of Nextracker Brazil

With a production capacity equivalent to 120 MW per week – which can be expanded to 160 MW – Nextracker expects to deliver the equivalent of 2 GW in smart trackers for centralized solar generation projects in Brazil this year alone.

The company estimates that it has a 38% share of the Brazilian centralized solar generation market. Projects in the country with company followers total 1.2 GW in operation, 2 GW under construction and another 2 GW. Globally, the company’s market share is 30%, with 50 GW of projects in operation or under construction.

“We don’t have a goal related to this, we want to be close to global market share, but our focus here is to develop solutions and intelligence,” says the company’s sales director, Nelson Falcão.

With an important participation in the Brazilian market, the company has invested in local research and development, having inaugurated a center of excellence within Flex’s FIT industrial complex, located in Sorocaba, São Paulo state, it has a majority stake in Nextracker. Research projects include analysis of the effects of salinity, humidity and corrosion on equipment and solar generation, as well as the use of batteries and soil analysis.

“One of the investigations developed more specifically for the Brazilian market is how to more easily identify the presence of murunda termites, which can affect the soil conditions for the installation of a power plant”, quotes the CEO of Nextracker, Henrique Rodrigues.

At FIT, Nextracker is also monitoring the results of XTR, a solar tracker whose design adapts to uneven ground, making earthmoving often unnecessary. With advances in land leveling, the tracker can make land viable that would not previously be suitable for photovoltaic projects, Rodrigues points out.

In addition to hardware solutions, Nextracker has also developed the software true capture, with which it is possible to optimize projects based on the inclination and topography of the available area. Laser drones measure the terrain and the data is analyzed through real capture.

The objective is to guarantee the delivery of the result expected by the clients. Production gains for plants using tracers are between 20% and 30%, depending on the project. Although they are laboratory tested and certified, the older trackers have only been in operation for 10 years, so the results must be monitored.

Each tracker manufactured by Nextracker has a miniprocessor, which with a programming in the controller, which according to the position of the sun, variable every day and from one place to another, positions the modules in the most efficient way. The tracker is then a minicomputer connected to its own small solar energy panel -it does not consume energy from the park- with a battery. With a small engine, it is capable of moving almost three tons of modules, ranging from 80 to 90 per row with a Nextracker tracker installed.

The Flex industrial complex serves a number of clients, including companies such as Dell, HP and Enel, who want a production line without directly investing in the necessary infrastructure. In addition to manufacturing products for other companies, Flex also integrates a storage center. The company serves the automotive, IT, healthcare and energy sectors. It was even in partnership with Flex that Canadian Solar produced “local” PV modules between 2016 and 2020.

Based in Silicon Valley, Flex made an investment in Nextracker in 2015 and became its parent company. It operates in 35 countries. In Brazil, in addition to the Sorocaba (SP) factory, it has facilities in Campinas (SP) and Manaus (AM). The company has some 10,000 employees in Brazil and a total of 200,000 worldwide.

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Intelligence and local development: inside the operations of Nextracker Brazil