Linear actuator for solar tracking systems

Written by: Schaeffler (UK) Ltd | Published:

Schaeffler has developed a maintenance-free linear actuator unit that enables solar power plant mirrors, collectors and PV modules to precisely track the course of the sun, improving plant efficiency and profitability.

Photovoltaic (PV), concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) systems operate more efficiently if their mirrors, collectors and PV modules accurately track the course of the sun. The more precise and trouble-free these systems are, the more efficient the solar power plant will operate.

By offering its linear actuator and bearings for swivel drives as a complete system, Schaeffler has taken another step towards the full integration of precision solar tracking systems for azimuth and elevation axes.

The linear actuator responsible for stroke movements in the elevation axis was custom designed to withstand the harsh operating conditions typically found in solar power plants. The linear actuator is designed for dynamic loads of up to 5kN and static loads of up to 15kN. The actuator can reach a stroke travel of up to 1,000mm at a stroke speed of 5 mm/s.

The complete mechatronics system comprises the rolling bearings for the individual bearing positions, screw drive spindle and spindle nut, extension tube, compact housing with cover, seal, drive technology (motor and gearbox unit), the sensors, and rod end for connecting the actuator. The innovative design and high flexibility of the unit allow the stroke length and mounting to be matched precisely to individual customer requirements.

The linear actuator can operate in high temperatures and is protected from dust, sand, wind and rain. Due to an encapsulated housing, a reduced number of fully-sealed joints, as well as an integrated motor, gearbox unit and entire drive technology, the linear actuator is able to operate maintenance-free. The sealing components provide the actuator with an IP66 protection rating, which prevents the ingress of contaminants such as water and sand. With its low-maintenance requirements and bearing supports, the linear actuator provides an operating life of up to 25 years.

The high precision axes ensure that the solar power plants generate optimum power output on a continuous basis. Schaeffler's linear actuator concept can also be adapted for use in other sectors or applications depending on the technical and geometrical requirements.

For more information on Schaeffler's range of linear actuators and linear guidance systems, please call the Marketing Department on 0121 313 5870 and request a copy of the ALE brochure. Alternatively, email

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