FTC Solar

North America

Acute damping as a wind mitigation strategy for single-axis solar trackers

FTC Solar, a global provider of solar tracker systems and related technology and services, was looking to optimize the effectiveness and durability of its single-axis solar trackers during wind events.


  • The Challenge

    Safeguarding the long-term stability and reliability of single-axis solar trackers (SATs) during wind events is a main concern for those involved with the design, manufacturing, and operation of such systems.

    Determining wind loads for solar trackers is difficult because:

    • Winds have both a static and a dynamic nature that can change in character over time.
    • Wind loads on solar trackers can vary by location both along rows and within arrays.
    • Terrain can significantly impact the behavior of solar trackers in the wind.
  • Our Approach

    FTC Solar turned to the world-renowned wind engineering expertise of RWDI to help determine a wind mitigation strategy for their single-axis solar trackers.

    RWDI’s team of experts:

    • Conducted aeroelastic wind tunnel testing on a scale model of a solar tracking array to determine the effect of various damping levels on the tracker, revealing the suppression of motion with a heavily overdamped solar tracker.
    • Leveraged wind tunnel testing results to inform FTC Solar’s development of a customized damping device
  • The Outcome

    While the concept of damping for solar trackers was not unique, the idea of overdamping was new territory. It was determined that using large amounts of damping could mitigate dynamic wind load challenges in FTC Solar’s single-axis solar trackers.