Inspired by kite surfing, an Israel engineer at Etenergy develops a PV dual-axis tracker to get 40% more energy from large PV solar installations.
What happens when an Israeli engineer with experience in solar power goes kite surfing with the wheels of his mind turning? Eyal Dror founder of the company ETracker has developed a new kind of pivoting solar energy tracker. When connected to solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, the company’s solar tracker rotates with the sun. With poles and wires built like a kite surf Etenergy says they can get a lot more energy from the sun, especially in windy regions. I met with Dror and Simon Fried from the company last week at the WATEC event in Tel Aviv, to learn that their new tracker the Etracker uses half as much materials as conventional trackers, and can give 40 percent more power to existing systems for a fraction of the price of today’s dual axis trackers.
In solar energy PV plants stretched out in deserts, the panels can be attached to trackers allowing them to move with the sun. But strong winds can destabilize the trackers, rendering them less efficient. Etenergy’s Etracker uses the wind as an advantage and according to company, their approach cuts down on the use of heavy cement and metal by half of what’s needed by the industry today.
The solution also includes software and algorithms to make sure the PV modules are kept directly facing the sun for as long as possible.
Surfing for the Sun
It was while he was hanging between the water and the sky that Dror (left) had his Eureka moment.”He was held down by strings and cables and suddenly the movement issues with solar trackers was solved,” Simon Fried, in marketing and business development for the company told Green Prophet.
Since 2008, Dror and his son Amit have been building the idea. Their kite-surfing inspired tracker is a dual-axis tracker which is lighter, more stable and less sensitive to the pressure of winds, at a lower cost.
Solar energy PV plants currently use one of three tracker systems:
1. Fixed axis, which doesn’t move at all.
2. Single axis which can pivot in one dimension
3. Dual axis which pivots in two dimensions, up and down and side to side.
Etenergy claims their solution costs the same as fixed axis, while delivering dual axis results.
Planning a second pilot project in Israel in Park Rotem in the Negev Desert, the company which has seen an investment of about $700,000 USD to date, is looking for strategic partners, and an investment of about $2 to 4 million USD. The staff of 8 is based in an incubator in the Rotem Ventures Incubator, in Mishor Yamin, Israel.
The staff at Etenergy
The company currently has agreements in place for R&D with the University of Arizona, and has signed agreements with companies in India and China.
Their dream client is any large PV solar power plant, or they could tie up with a panel manufacturer offering a dual access tracker at a fixed axis tracker price.
Etenergy plans on starting with PV which requires the least amount of sun tracking accuracy and will move on to solar thermal and concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) in their future milestones.