What Potential Do Bifacial Solar Panels Have?

Solar panels, specifically bi-facial modules, are growing in popularity. As researchers and scientists continue emphasizing the importance of sustainability on our environment. So more people and companies are implementing ways to manage resources better. That’s by saving money and create renewable methods that aid in improving sustainability.

Out of all the renewable energy resources, solar energy is the most abundant on earth with 173,000 terawatts of solar energy striking the earth continuously, which is why researchers continue to push ahead with solar module testing and progress in this industry.

What are Bifacial Solar Panels?

You’ve probably heard of solar panels but might not be familiar with this type. So, what are bifacial panels anyway?

A bifacial solar panel can collect energy from both sides, hence the “bi” in bifacial. They can come in many designs: framed, frameless, dual-glass, or made with clear back side sheets. Many panels use monocrystalline cells, while others use polycrystalline designs.

You should be aware that many organizations are studying solar tracking technology in order to develop data in support of bifacial solar panels. One of the leaders in solar tracking technology, Array Technologies, is now testing bifacial solar panels at its lab in New Mexico.

The founder of this organization, Ron Corio, focuses on having his team examine the benefits of bifacial panels, and Array Technologies also wants to implement standards for the industry. Many companies like them want to acquire several years’ worth of data that may alter our use of solar panels going forward.

Benefits of Bifacial Panels

Bifacial solar panels present numerous benefits over conventional solar panels, which leads to bifacial’s growing popularity.

Since power can be produced from both sides, total energy generation increases, and these panels are more durable since both sides are UV resistant. As well, frameless bifacial panels reduce potential-induces degradation (PID) concerns.

The Balance of System (BOS) costs also reduce with the increase in power generation, leaving a smaller array footprint.

Another benefit of bifacial solar panels is the position of the arrays. Instead of having to install them south facing to generate the ideal output, you can install bifacial panels verticallyin an east to west direction.

How are Bifacial Panels Installed?

The process of installing a bifacial panel depends on its design type. A framed bifacial panel, for example, may be easier to install than a frameless; most traditional mounting systems cater to framed versions panels.

Many bifacial panel manufacturers provide clamps to mount their specific brand of solar panel, so you don’t have to worry about this aspect. For frameless panels, the clamps often feature rubber guards to protect the glass, though you should take special care to avoid damaging the glass from overtightening of the bolts.

When you install bifacial modules on a reflective surface (like a white TPO roof or on the ground with light-colored stones), some bifacial module manufacturers claim up to a 30 percent increase in production from the extra power generated from the rear.

Tilting a bifacial module higher up can allow it to produce more power, while bifacial panels mounted flush to a rooftop will block ant reflected light from reaching the back side sheets. 

For best performance results, mount them on flat commercial rooftops and ground-mounted arrays to leave more room for tilt and reflected light. 

It’s important, when installing bifacial panels, to consider how the mounting system can impact their performance as well. Racking systems with support rails will shade back rows of bifacial cells. Junction boxed 

The Future of Bifacial Panels

Experts in the solar panel industry have predicted that bifacial panels will take off soon. As the cost of bifacial structures decreases, the financing community is coming around to the idea. Some companies already have bifacial panels on the market, including LG, Lumos Solar, Prism Solar, Sunpreme, Trina Solar and Yingli Solar. As more and more companies make them, and more companies buy them, bifacial panels will start entering mainstream industries.

In order to get businesses to want to use these, the key metrics to analyze and advertise if the levelization of energy cost. At the end of the day, this is the number one priority of businesses.

The first company to prove that their panels are the best performers at the lowest cost to companies, or one that can even save companies money, will win over businesses and allow the solar panel industry to sky-rocket.

Confirmations of the actual value of the bifacial panels are on the way, and we can expect the data to set an industry benchmark in solar technology advancement very soon.

Bio:
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger from Lancaster, PA. She covers topics in conservation, sustainability and renewable energy. See her latest posts. Check out her blog Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.