Our recommendation is that, at this point, solar trackers are not a good value proposition for applications in Ontario. In theory, the additional output yield for southern Ontario is in the order of 25-30% but the upfront cost is approximately 25% and the additional maintenance and replacement costs can be significant.
What are they?
Solar trackers involve the additional installation of motors, gears and electronics that allow an otherwise fixed system of solar panels to track the movement of the sun across the sun (either from day to night and/or across the seasons).
How much more output can I expect?
The gain from having a solar tracker depends largely on the latitude and the climate. The maximum gain that you may expect is in summer and at the greatest latitude (100% gain at the North and South poles in mid-summer, and no gain at all at the North and South poles in winter). In southern Ontario, the overall potential gain is in the order of 25-30% (according to data from Natural Resources Canada). In terms of real data, an engineering company in Pennsylvania is monitoring the performance of a solar tracked system with a fixed system (in 2009, for example, the gain was in the order of 15%). [link]
What are the disadvantages of a solar tracked system?
By adding moving equipment and electronics to an otherwise simple and long-lasting system, a solar tracked system increases the upfront cost substantially – by approximately 25%. In addition, a solar tracked system involves: