Nevados Engineering, a solar tracker manufacturer, inaugurated the recent opening of a new production line in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, with a press event on Thursday. Nevados is working with contract manufacturer Priefert Steel to produce its All Terrain Trackers, which are single-axis solar trackers designed to adapt to undulating topographies.
Priefert is a third-generation family company that has manufactured steel products like head gates for cattle ranching and other steel products for the agricultural industry. The contract manufacturer sources its steel supply from East Texas. Of the 900 people working in Priefert’s Mount Pleasant factory, more than 100 of them are producing Nevados trackers. Mount Pleasant has a population of just 16,000 people.
“We’re proud of our factory with 23 acres under one roof, and our focus on high-precision steel manufacturing,” said Rocky Christenberry, Priefert’s VP of manufacturing. “The Nevados focus on design innovation in all-terrain trackers makes us great natural partners.”
Nevados credited launching the new factory line to the manufacturing boost provided by the tax credits present in the Inflation Reduction Act. The federal legislation includes provisions for torque tubes and structural fasteners found on solar trackers when produced in the United States, and has a bonus tax credit for using domestically sourced steel.
The solar industry is still awaiting clarification from the IRS on how to qualify for the domestic content bonus found in Section 45X of the IRA, but Christenberry said Nevados trackers will qualify because Priefert maintains full traceability of its steel supply chain.
According to a press release, Nevados will have contracts to supply trackers to about 1.5 GW of solar projects in the United States by the end of 2023. Jenya Meydbray, CCO of Nevados, said All Terrain Trackers are being shipped across the continental U.S., with a growing presence in Northeast states due to the uneven terrain in the region. All Terrain Trackers are able to adjust to different angles at each structural pile, with bearings that can handle slope changes of up to 15°.
“The solar industry is out of the easy sites and more and more of the sites that are selected for solar projects are challenging,” Meydbray said. “You can either throw a bulldozer at it to move dirt or you can use Nevados and avoid that.”
The design choice to reduce civil work on its trackers aligns with Priefert’s history in agriculture. While every community might not welcome solar construction on farmland – and Christenberry said that’s the case where he resides – Nevados All Terrain Trackers can prevent project developers from removing crucial topsoil from solar sites that would render them unfit for farming indefinitely.
Nevados plans to expand its manufacturing presence in the United States, but didn’t disclose any immediate plans or locations. Priefert is expected to expand its existing facilities from 23 acres to 40.