When faced with a small land footprint and the need for a high electrical load, Terralta and their partner Enmax decided to try out an innovative new solar panel system called a Dual Axis Solar Tracker manufactured by Sun Action Trackers.
“We are really excited about this one because it not only offers real-time data and testing but also a huge learning curve for us as an installation company and for Enmax whom we are partnering with,” says owner and operator of Terralta Marcus Campbell. Dual axis trackers have solar panels that track the sun north/south and east/west, which makes them very efficient. The Sun Action Trackers system is integrated with their “patented Real-Time Sensing Technology, which is designed to capture the optimum solar energy generation.” (Sun Action Trackers, 2019)
This project will be located along the St. Mary River Irrigation District and will tie into their lateral 12-pump station just south of Bow Island. To produce the 705.6 kilowatts (KW) of power needed, they are installing 42 dual axis trackers. Each tracker will consist of 42 LG 400 watt bi-facial modules giving them a total of 1,764 solar modules. “With these trackers, we are fairly confident through the modelling that we have done and through the partnership with Sun Action Trackers and LG, that we will meet those targets and they will be net-zero electrically for Bow Island Pump 12,” says Campbell.
Other benefits of dual axis solar trackers include the ability to keep the actual land disturbance to a minimum. Terralta will be using a helical footing right next to the canal so as not to disrupt the roadway. These trackers should also perform better in winter weather conditions, something that traditional panels can have problems with. “We don’t expect these units to collect as much snow as conventional systems because they will be tilted at the optimal angle to the sun,” says Campbell. Terralta and Enmax will be closely monitoring these systems over the next year, as this is one of the first installations of this particular product in a colder climate. They will be looking at numbers on a quarterly and yearly basis to compare data to conventional systems.
Since 2009, Terralta and Enmax have partnered on multiple residential, commercial and agricultural solar energy projects including Medicine Hat College’s Community Renewable Energy Microgrid Demonstration Project and a solar installation at Dr. Ken Sauer School in Medicine Hat. They are hoping to install more of these solar trackers and have proposals out for projects in the County of Newell.
This project is an example of an innovative renewable energy product being used in Southeastern Alberta. To learn more on what is on the horizon for entrepreneurship visit www.apexalberta.ca. APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.