UK-based PV project developer, Castillium is to use next-generation tracking systems for at least 45MW worth of projects in the UK after signing a purchase agreement with US-based start-up QBotix.

Having come out of stealth mode and launched its robot controlled dual-axis PV module tracking system in September 2012, QBotix has had some success with its innovative technology, notably in Japan.

However, the deal with Castillium highlights that the project developer believes the technology is mature enough and suitable for UK conditions to support the use of dual-axis trackers for large-scale, ground-mounted PV projects.

Derek Mitchell, Castillium's director, said: “QBotix's innovative approach to reducing the cost of solar tracking technology will improve the financial competitiveness of solar PV projects across the UK, extending the range of solar PV as commercial pressures increase through reducing tariffs.”

In an edition late last year of Solar Business Focus UK magazine, David Read, business development manager at Williams Renewables, highlighted yield performance data from a small-scale project using Deger Energie dual axis trackers in the UK, which significantly outperformed fixed-mount systems.

The analysis revealed that tracking the sun in prolonged low-light summer conditions was a major aspect to the project exceeding estimated performance levels. Deger Energie had estimated an operational plant would have electricity generation of 138% compared to a fixed-mount system in the same location.

However, the Williams Renewable project had generated 168% of expected generation.

The QBotix system is claimed to increase performance by up to 40% over existing fixed mount systems and lower the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) by up to 20%. 

A key unique aspect to the QBotix system is the use of autonomous robots, one primary and one back-up, to control 300kW of solar modules. The robots travel on a track and adjust each mounting system to optimally face the sun in succession, which replaces conventional tracker technology use of multiple individual motors and controllers.

The partners expect the first projects to begin construction in the middle of 2014.