A comparative techno-economic assessment of manually adjustable tilt mechanisms and automatic solar trackers for behind-the-meter PV applications

Gönül Ö., Yazar F., Duman A. C., Güler Ö.

RENEWABLE & SUSTAINABLE ENERGY REVIEWS, vol.168, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 168
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.rser.2022.112770
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, Aerospace Database, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, Greenfile, INSPEC, Public Affairs Index, Veterinary Science Database, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Photovoltaic system, Single-axis tracker, Dual-axis tracker, Economic analysis, Payback period, SUN TRACKING SYSTEM, OPTIMUM TILT, GENERAL-MODELS, ANGLES, PERFORMANCE, RADIATION, SURFACES, PANELS, ORIENTATION, COLLECTORS
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Many studies in the literature aim to increase the amount of solar radiation falling on photovoltaic (PV) panel surface to improve its performance. Most of these studies concentrate on solar tracking systems and few studies focus on manually adjustable tilt mechanisms. However, no studies in the literature compare these two methods techno-economically. Therefore, as its main contribution, this study makes a techno-economic comparison of solar trackers and manually adjustable tilt mechanisms. First, the electricity production of fixed-tilt, manually adjustable tilt mechanisms (monthly and seasonal adjustment), and automatic solar trackers (single-axis east-west (SA-EWT), single-axis south-north (SA-SNT), and dual-axis (DAT)) systems are technically analyzed for three provinces in Turkey with different solar characteristics. After that, the systems are compared economically and evaluated over levelized cost of electricity (LCoE), discounted payback period (DPBP), and internal rate of return (IRR). Finally, a detailed sensitivity analysis is made and the impact of changes in initial investment costs and real interest rates is examined. Eventually, the payback period of fixed-tilt systems is found to be 10.3-13.3 years in Turkey. Dual-axis solar trackers provide the highest electricity production increase (30.4-34.6%) compared to fixed-tilt but with the highest payback period (16.7-24 years) among all alternatives. Monthly manual tilt adjustment provides the most feasible solution by decreasing the payback period of fixed-tilt systems by around 8 months to 9.6-12.6 years and with an electricity production increase of 3.6-5%.