Once you've decided to install a solar PV array, you want to obtain the fastest possible return on investment (ROI). There are many options that will impact how quickly you recoup your investment, including the location of the installation, its layout and the smart solar features incorporated.

One aspect of this equation that plays a very important role is the type of solar module you choose to install. Among these different types of modules, bifacial solar panels stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to energy generation, making them an ideal choice for a rapid ROI on your solar PV installation.

Because of its higher energy production, people are getting excited about bifacial panels. However, there are still some questions about exactly how much energy they produce and how that impacts the overall ROI for a solar project.

To quell these questions, Trina Solar ran some tests to highlight just how much more energy bifacial modules produce.

What's a bifacial solar panel?

Solar PV modules come in all shapes and sizes, and each have their own advantages. As scientists and engineers continue to improve their solar panel designs, each iteration becomes more efficient, reliable and durable.

Bifacial PV systems represent the latest innovation in solar modules as they convert light captured on both the front and back of the module. The solar cell to absorb more sunlight, thereby generating more energy.

How much more energy do bifacial modules generate?

Although it's easy to say that these modules generate more energy, it's important to demonstrate precisely how much more they produce. This lets project managers, homeowners and other solar PV end users make more accurate calculations to determine the projected timeline of the installation's ROI.

To demonstrate the increased energy production from bifacial solar modules, Trina Solar set up a test in Changzhou, China, to discern how much more energy bifacial modules generate compared to traditional modules. The tests measured the bifacial module power output and energy gain with and without a mechanical tracker on three different fields: grass, sand and a white-painted surface.

Using monofacial modules as a baseline the test found that:

On grass:  5.2 percent energy gain.

On grass with a tracker:  10.57 percent energy gain.

On sand:  10.79 percent energy gain.

On sand with a tracker:  24.42 percent energy gain.

On white-painted surface:  21.9 percent energy gain.

On white-painted surface with a tracker:  33.2 percent energy gain.

As the results show, bifacial modules outperform standard panels in every category, while trackers add even greater energy gains. Further, when combined with a tracker and placed on a white-painted surface, bifacial modules outperform the standard monofacial panels by more than a third. 

Bifacial modules with tracking surpass theoretical gains

While the results showing bifacial modules outperformed traditional modules were expected, the study still revealed some surprising results. The test showed that using a bifacial module with a tracker resulted in a greater increase in energy production than the sum of the gain from a tracker or bifacial modules individually.

Based on the energy gains from bifacial modules and trackers individually, the bifacial module with the tracker on grass should have reached a 15.5 percent power gain. The actual results showed a whopping 19.5 percent power gain, or a 4 percent extra power gain compared to the expectations.

With this information at hand, project managers, homeowners and other solar PV end users can make more accurate ROI calculations. Plus, the additional power gains generated by bifacial modules, with or without the tracker demonstrate just how much more efficient these panels are.

The dual-glass construction of the bifacial modules also makes them more reliable and durable than the standard modules, which increases their longevity in the field and helps ensure a satisfactory ROI.

Click here to learn more about Trina Solar's bifacial DUOMAX solar modules. 

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