Technology

The types of equipment used in utility-scale solar parks

Utility-scale solar projects tend to use the more efficient solar technologies available, and the largest sizes, to take advantage of economies of scale.

The pull-down menu under the 'Technology' tab above shows the main types of equipment used and gives maps showing the projects on which the technology is known to be used.

Solar PV cell technology

As in the wider PV market, crystalline silicon solar cells are most commonly used, with both poly- and monocrystalline materials widely used. Novel approaches like PERC cells and bifacial modules are adopted as their cost and technical viability become proven.

Thin-film cell types are less widely used, though cadmium-telluride pionerr, First Solar, is a major player in the utility-scale solar market.

Solar module size

Utility-scale projects tend to use the larger module sizes available for the chosen technology. For crystalline panels capacities in the range 300-300Wp per module were common-place in the early years, while panels over 400Wp became more widely used in and approaching the 2020's.

CSP technology

Concentrated solar thermal power is used almost exclusively for utility-scale generation. Single-axis tracking trough systems are more common than the 'power tower' where mirrors concentrate the sun onto a central boiler.

Array mountings and tracking

Utility-scale projects have adopted all of the major moutings available. Fixed tilt ground mountings are more common at higher latitudes, while tracking structures (most commonly horizontal single axis) are ever more widely used, expecially in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

Novel approaches, such as floating structures and agri-photovoltaics are also adopted where appropriate.

Inverters

The dominant approach is to use centralised inverters. String and module based inverters may be favoured where there my be differential shading, but are less common.

Mapping by technology

Where we have specific information about the technology used in specific projects, this is held in the Wiki-Solar Database.

Separate maps for projects using some of the most common technology options are available - use the pull-down menu under Technology' above.