Position control of solar fields in harsh environments

Solar fields are automatically adapted to the sun’s position in a large solar park by means of SICK encoders. Inductive proximity sensors from SICK also prevent the moving mechanism from overrunning in the end positions.

The EAR Group is a significant provider of ready-to-use photovoltaic systems in Italy. One of the plants that the company built on 30,000 m² in Cerbera, Italy, consists of 93 solar fields, with 33 solar panels each. Inverters convert the direct current generated on-site into alternating current. The overall performance of the plant is 700 kWp. The fields were designed so that they automatically follow the sun. This results in substantially greater energy efficiency than with rigid fields. The movement is controlled by so-called trackers, in each of which two precision drives work: one aligns the solar field to the vertical position of the sun, and the other adapts the field according to the horizontal movement of the sun. Monitoring these two movements requires a solution that works reliably even under harsh environmental conditions. In addition, the trackers should be able to align the solar fields so that they can receive the maximum sunlight in both summer and winter.

Application Solution
The EAR Group found the ideal solution for the detection of the angular change of the solar fields in the DFS60 incremental encoders with through hollow shaft. The sensor has a very high resolution, enabling precise adjustment of the solar fields. The very compact, integration-friendly design and the robustness in outdoor applications were also convincing. Features such as the metal code disk, the double shaft bearing, the housing’s high enclosure rating, and the water-resistant cable outlet make the sensor a solution that guarantees maximum availability in any weather and at temperatures between −20°C and +100°C.

More efficiency by adapting the solar fields

This is an application from SICK.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SICK distributor in Wisconsin.
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