You may have heard recently about the growing popularity of bifacial modules – in today’s post, we look at what bifacial modules are, how they’re different from traditional modules, and how they’re impacting the solar industry.

What are Bifacial and Traditional Modules, and how are they different?

Bifacial modules produce solar power from both sides of the panel, compared to traditional panels that are monofacial, and therefore can produce up to 30% extra power1. Traditional modules have an opaque backing and only absorb light from the front side, while bifacial modules have both the front and back exposed to sunlight.

The higher that a bifacial module is tilted, the more power it produces because reflected light can reach the backside of the cells. Bifacial modules work the best on flat commercial rooftops and ground-mounted arrays because of the amount of reflected light and the availability of space for tilting the modules1.

What are the Pros and Cons of each?

Bifacial

  • Lower operating temperature
  • Higher energy yield
  • Aesthetically pleasing see-through look2
  • Utility market more likely to benefit than residential market
  • Energy yield performance depends on site-specific conditions3

Traditional

  • High power output
  • Easily available for both utility market and residential market
  • Singled-sided, therefore produce less energy than bifacial4

What does this mean for the Solar Industry?

Chinese panel manufacturer LONGi Solar believes we’re entering a new era of PV: “Bifacial modules are the future of the industry,” said Hongbin Fang, technical director of LONGi Solar. “It inherited all the advantages of mono PERC modules: high power density resulting in significant BOS savings, high energy yield with better low light performance and lower temperature coefficient. In addition, bifacial PERC modules also harvest energy from the rear side, demonstrating higher energy yield. We think bifacial PERC modules are the best approach to realize lower LCOE.”1

Canadian Solar, one of the world’s biggest solar manufacturers, is also getting involved with bifacial modules, and has recently announced that they delivered 10 MW of bifacial modules to a project in Oregon5. Many other manufacturers will be releasing their own versions of bifacial modules in 2019 as well.

And in the United States, there has been growing tension over import tariffs that could jeopardize the solar industry. The U.S. Trade Representative made public that bifacial panels will be exempt from solar duties, which is a great solution for companies that can shift to bifacial panels to avoid these tariffs6.

In Conclusion

                Traditional modules may become a thing of the past as bifacial modules gain popularity in the solar industry. Although bifacial modules are currently more difficult to use in the residential market, we’re predicting in the coming years that they’ll gain popularity across the board!

Supporting Links

Here are some supporting articles about bifacial and traditional modules that you might find helpful to check out!

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/bifacial-modules-win-reprieve-from-u-s-solar-tariffs#gs.isdptm

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/canadian-solar-secures-its-largest-ever-module-order-as-bifacial-technology#gs.iskvym

References

1Pickerel, K. (2018, April 2). What are bifacial solar modules? Retrieved from Solar Power World: https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2018/04/what-are-bifacial-solar-modules/

2EnerTuition. (2015, February 2). Seeing Double: Bifacial Solar Costs, Benefits and Installation Issues. Retrieved from seekingalpha.com: https://seekingalpha.com/article/2875236-seeing-double-bifacial-solar-costs-benefits-and-installation-issues

3TaiyangNews Staff. (2018, July 3). Panel with TaiyangNews, LONGi Solar, Fraunhofer ISE and TUV discussed potential of bifacial solar technology at Intersolar Europe. Retrieved from taiyangnews.info: http://taiyangnews.info/technology/mono-perc-bifacial-the-next-big-thing-in-solar/

4GreenMatch. (2019, April 1). 7 Different Types of Solar Panels Explained. Retrieved from greenmatch.co.uk: https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2015/09/types-of-solar-panels

5Civic Solar. (2019). Trend to Watch: Bifacial Modules. Retrieved from civicsolar.com: https://www.civicsolar.com/support/installer/articles/trend-watch-bifacial-modules

6Natter, A., & Efstathiou Jr, J. (2019, June 12). Solar Has New Way to Duck Trump’s Tariffs: Two-Sided Panels. Retrieved from Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-12/trump-hands-solar-panel-makers-another-reprieve-from-tariffs