Why Bifacial Modules Are on the Rise for Utility-Scale Solar Installations
- Utility,Business of Solar
Solar module manufacturers are continually innovating their products to provide project stakeholders with more value for utility-scale PV installations. Bifacial modules represent one of the latest examples of this innovation in action.
Bifacial modules collect light on both sides of a PV panel, instead of just the front. The rear facing monocrystalline cells also collect diffused light from the atmosphere and reflected off the ground or other surfaces. When integrated with trackers to follow the sun throughout the day, the PV system can harvest more light and generate more power. This increased power from the same installation footprint has attracted a lot of market attention.
Recently, project developers from around the world have been shifting to installing more bifacial modules. For example, in China, more than 30 percent of the utility-scale projects installed during the second half of 2020 are using bifacial modules. Another recent 1.5 gigawatts (GW) order to be distributed across Europe, Africa and South America will be fulfilled using bifacial modules.
Meanwhile, analysts from Wood Mackenzie forecast the U.S. to experience sustained growth of bifacial module installations during the next five years. WoodMac analysts expect the 500 megawatts (MW) installed in 2019 to grow to more than 2,00MW by the end of 2020 before jumping to more than 7,000MW by 2024.
What’s driving this sudden burst of growth for a technology that’s relatively new to the market?
Early bifacial study results promising
Time and time again, studies continue to show the benefits of bifacial PV modules. From their cost-effectiveness to higher energy production, bifacial modules keep proving why they’re a better option than traditional monofacial modules.
The latest data to highlight the advantage of this still emerging technology comes from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In May 2019, the NREL launched a three-year study into the effectiveness of bifacial modules. Although the study is still in progress, early results obtained between June through November 2019 indicate these two-sided modules provide a significant boost to energy gains. The NREL team found that bifacial modules produced energy production gains of up to 9 percent compared to monofacial modules.
Chris Deline, NREL researcher and principal investigator on the study, noted that his team was actually getting more energy out of the tests than what they forecasted in their initial simulations.
Integrating bifacial modules with trackers
In helping meet Trina Solar’s mission to deliver high power yields with a low LCOE, the company introduced TrinaPro, the next major step forward for utility solar. TrinaPro’s all-in-one approach bundles Tier-1 bifacial PV modules with trackers and inverters to optimize power gains for utility-scale solar installations. TrinaPro’s use of high-efficiency bifacial modules in this smart turnkey solar solution also adds significant flexibility to the project design for improved ROI.
ArcVera Renewables, a renewable energy technical consultancy, reviewed third-party bifacial models and test systems across North America. They found that when paired with typical ground-mount tracking systems, bifacial modules generated annual gains as high as 10 percent with room for additional optimization.
Want to learn more about the benefits of bifacial modules?
Register here for the upcoming Solar Summit 2020 panel discussion titled ”Demonstrating the Efficiency Gains of Bifacial Modules and Single-Axis Trackers” where TrinaPro Business Development Manager Doug Broach, along with other solar experts, will discuss these benefits.
You can also download the free TrinaPro Solution Guide Book to learn more.
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