What Are Bifacial Solar Panels
One of the latest developments in solar technology is bifacial solar panels. These solar panels can absorb light on both the front and back faces of the panels. This increases the efficiency of the solar panels, but it’s not the best solution for each situation.
What are the pros and cons of bifacial solar panels? When are they the right solar panels for the job? Let’s find out.
What Are Bifacial Solar Panels?
From a distance, bifacial solar panels might look very similar to traditional monofacial solar panels. However, when you get closer, the differences start to stand out.
As the name implies, bifacial solar panels have two faces that produce energy. That means there are solar cells on both the front and back of the panels.
To promote their energy production, bifacial solar panels are generally very thin and transparent. Without a traditional backing material on the panel, light can travel through the solar panels and bounce off the surface underneath. The light that bounces back is then absorbed by the solar cells on the back to produce energy.
To accommodate these thin and clear panels, solar racking is normally slimmed down and situated to reduce shading. Often, racking is attached to the very edge of the panels instead of across the back for this reason.
Panels are also spaced out to allow light to pass through, increasing the energy production of the rear solar cells. The best material to reflect this light back is often sand, light-colored gravel, or a light-colored membrane.
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What Are The Pros and Cons of Bifacial Solar Panels
One of the largest benefits of bifacial solar panels is their efficiency. According to studies by both LONGi (a bifacial solar panel manufacturer) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. bifacial solar panels can produce up to 27% more energy than traditional monofacial solar panels.
This means that 27% fewer bifacial solar panels would need to be installed to create the same energy as monofacial solar panels. That can make a huge difference, especially if space is a concern.
Some people also like the look of bifacial solar panels, especially their clear appearance and thin design. Also, the ability to allow light through can provide the opportunity to place the solar panels in locations where partial shading is desired, such as on gazebos, carports, or sunrooms.
However, bifacial solar panels do have their downsides. The largest of these downsides is cost. Bifacial solar panels themselves cost slightly more than monofacial solar panels.
Unfortunately, this cost difference is exacerbated by tariffs put in place by the Trump administration in 2018. and which have yet to be rescinded under the Biden administration. These tariffs add additional costs beyond normal market forces, which had brought down the costs of bifacial solar panels significantly in the last decade.
The larger cost difference comes from specialized solar racking for the bifacial panels.
Because bifacial solar panels require minimal shading behind the panels, specialized racking is installed to avoid blocking light that travels through the panels. This racking is more costly and requires experienced installers to do the job right. This all adds to the cost of a bifacial solar installation.
WHo Can Benefit From Bifical SOlar Panels?
Bifacial solar panels are a great technology, but they are not for everyone or every situation.
In many cases, residential installations do not benefit from bifacial solar panels. This is because most homeowners wish to install solar panels on their roof. In this situation, the solar panels will be installed very close to the roof’s surface, which is often dark and will not provide enough reflection to create energy on the rear solar cells.
Additionally, because bifacial solar panels let light through, this will allow the sun to heat up the roof behind the panels. Increased heat decreases the efficiency of solar panels, which will further reduce solar energy production.
The exception for residential bifacial solar is ground-mounted installs. In this situation, the panels are far enough from the ground’s surface for light to reflect back onto the rear solar cells. This is even better if the ground surface is light in color, such as sand, gravel, or a membrane. Efficiency is increased even more if solar trackers are employed in the racking to track the sun.
Residential solar installs that could benefit from bifacial panels also include solar gazebos, pagodas, and sunrooms. These unique installs can benefit from the partial shade provided by bifacial solar panels while also creating solar energy.
However, in most cases, bifacial solar panels are most appropriate for commercial and utility solar installs.
Commercial solar installs can benefit from bifacial solar because commercial roofs are often large, flat and covered in a light-colored membrane. This is ideal for bifacial solar panels, as the membrane will reflect the sunlight onto the rear solar cells, and the large, flat roof provides a perfect surface for a large number of solar panels.
Similarly, utility-scale solar projects are most often installed on large, flat parcels of land. Utilities are also able to absorb the higher costs of bifacial solar panels with the understanding that the increased efficiency will allow for a faster payback.
So, while bifacial solar panels might not be right for most residential solar projects, there are still cases where it could make sense. But in most cases, bifacial solar is best for commercial and utility-scale projects.
To learn more about how solar panels could save you money, and to learn about valuable solar incentives, contact Green Ridge Solar today. You can also use our Solar Calculator to estimate how much you could save with solar.
ADVANTAGES OF BIFACIAL PV
Bifacial solar PV panels are relatively new to the photovoltaic landscape, and they can generate 5 to 25% energy boost from the backside. How do you achieve maximum gains from the bifacial solar panels?
What is different with Bifacial Solar PV?
Each time a project is on a reflective (white or light gray) roof, bifacial solar PVs should be studied, as they are usually more profitable than standard solar panels on the same roof. On ground-mounts and carports, bifacial solar PVs allow for an increased output for the same structure and foundation cost. A bifacial solar panel project requires a different approach than a standard (monofacial) panel project, and our team of expert is there to guide you through this process. To benefit as much as possible from bifacial solar PVs, we must adapt the project’s perspective toward one of the two options below:
Use Case 1 – Produce more electricity with the same quantity of panels
Opsun can receive any standard monofacial layout, and recreate the same layout with our bifacial PV racking, at the same tilt angle (above 10 deg. tilt), and benefit from the existing (or new) reflective roof to produce more electricity.
To increase the yield, we will usually increase the solar panels height from roof (clearance), and use the reflective (white TPO, EPDM, “cool roof”) roof to boost reflectivity on the backside of the solar panels.
With this approach, the total project cost increase required to utilize bifacial solar PV panels and racking will be entirely offset by additional revenues (from higher yield), and return on investment will be increased. In many cases, increasing return on investment (IRR) over 10% is achievable.
Use Case 2 – Produce the same amount of electricity but with a smaller budget
Opsun a target for kWh production based on monofacial solar panels (annual electricity output), our team of expert can craft for you a solution producing that same amount of kWh, but with fewer bifacial solar panels than would have been required with monofacial solar panels.
We will usually increase the height (clearance) of the PVs with the roof or ground, and sometimes we will increase tilt angle and interrow distance.
When optimized, each bifacial PV solar panel will generate more energy than a standard monofacial solar panels, so we can obtain the same output as standard PVs, with up to 10 to 25% fewer bifacial PV solar panels. This will often lead to a lower project cost.
Optimizing a Bifacial Solar PV Project Design
Once a Use Case (see above) has been chosen, Opsun will help you optimize the project, following your requirements. To maximize the amount of electricity a bifacial PV project generates, the following point must be carefully studied:
- Avoid any shading from the back of the solar panels (from wind deflectors, for instance), such as any rails passing under the backside of the solar panels (no obstructions under the solar panels with Opsun Bifacial PV Racking);
- (1) Solar panels must be tilted as high as possible (from 10 deg. up to 30 deg possible with Opsun Bifacial PV Racking on rooftop, no limit on ground mounts);
- (2) Height (clearance) between the PVs and the roof or ground must be increased as much as possible (up to 24” possible with Opsun Bifacial PV Racking on rooftop, no limit on ground mounts).
- (3) Increase interrow spacing (any spacing possible with Opsun Bifacial PV Racking);
- (4) Orientation must be landscape, to avoid rails under the PVs (Opsun Bifacial PV racking can do both landscape and portrait, but only landscape is recommended for bifacial).
- (5) Minimize ballast under the PVs (some anchors can be added where a lot of ballast blocks are needed. Both ballast and anchors, or hybrid of both, are possible with Opsun Bifacial PV Racking).
- Optimize to find the perfect balance between all the above elements to fit a maximum of PVs, and generate a maximum of electricity. Opsun’s bifacial PV racking is perfectly optimized for bifacial, with zero permanent shading on the backside, and possibilities to increase tilt up to 30 deg, height up to 24” and row-to-row spacing up to 88”.
Get expert support to sell the project to your client
Opsun’s team of expert can support you during all phases of a bifacial solar project. Namely, Opsun can support you by helping with discounted cashflow models (to understand financial advantages of bifacial PV, versus standard monofacial PVs). We can help you get the most out of bifacial PVs by supporting your team on all aspects of a Bifacial PV project, such as:
- Claiming a part of the roof value under the ITC (rooftop only);
- Understanding the lower snow losses with bifacial PVs;
- Choosing the right AC:DC ratio;
- Module Orientation (True South Vs Building South);
- How to increase albedo of roof;
- Anchoring Vs ballasting (anchors can help reduce shadows on the roof);
- How to avoid hot spots caused by rails behind bifacial PVs;
- Architectural integration to existing or new buildings;
- Canopies over mech wells, or pergolas;
- How to optimize East-West oriented tilted roofs;
- And much more!
Opsun can help generate more with bifacial panels, We engineer our structures using the most stringent criteria
OPSUN Total Engineering tm Support
Opsun specilizes in solar PV racking engineering for any type of solar project, discover below our unique process to assure the best quality racking and engineering is supplied for all your solar PV, and bifacial PV projects.
Opsun’s racking is not a single product : it is instead a large library of rails, components and configurations that we can adapt to match any client’s requirements.
Full engineering Support
Opsun experts takes care of all the mechanical aspects of your solar PV project and we deliver detailed, project-specific set of engineering plans to help accelerate installation time.
Opsun is your solution finder to a wide array of challenges, such as limited roof capacity, directly attached or hybrid (both ballasted anchored) systems.
Opsun On-Site Support allows your installation team to benefit from the instructions and supervision of an expert from Opsun’s team, with 15 years of experience.
Unveiling the Advantages of Bifacial Solar Panels: A Complete Guide
Let’s delve into the realm of renewable energy and shed light on the exceptional capabilities of bifacial solar panels.
These remarkable energy harvesters have the unique ability to capture sunlight from both the front and rear sides, thanks to their reflective back or the ingenious dual-panel glass design housing the solar cells. In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the intricate workings of bifacial solar panels and their unique solar energy absorption mechanism.
How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Work?
Bifacial solar panels operate similarly to their conventional counterparts. They efficiently convert a portion of direct sunlight into usable electricity through solar cells.
However, what sets them apart is their ability to harness an additional portion of sunlight that enters the panel and gets reflected within the glass until it finds its way to be absorbed by another solar cell. This intriguing phenomenon, known as the albedo effect, plays a pivotal role in the operation of bifacial solar panels, making them an exceptional choice for maximizing energy generation.
When flush mounting on a rooftop, these panels prevent any reflected light from reaching the backside of the cells. This attribute makes bifacial modules particularly advantageous for flat commercial rooftops and ground-mounted arrays.
The additional space allows for greater tilt and enables reflected light to bounce toward the rear of the modules, further enhancing their performance.
Benefits of Bifacial Solar Panel
Prepare to be amazed as we unravel the myriad benefits of these cutting-edge energy solutions. Below, we present a captivating glimpse into the remarkable advantages that bifacial solar panels bring to the table.
Better Performance: Harness the power of innovation with bifacial solar panels as they unlock a new era of energy generation. By capturing sunlight from both sides, these marvels produce a significant boost in power output.
In fact, certain manufacturers assert that bifacial panels can generate up to a remarkable 30% more energy than their monofacial counterparts. This enhanced efficiency not only means more electricity but also allows homeowners to optimize space by installing fewer panels while fulfilling their energy requirements.
Durability: When it comes to durability, bifacial solar panels shine with their frameless design and robust construction. Encased in tempered glass on both sides, these panels offer exceptional resistance to various weather conditions, UV rays, high temperatures, and even strong winds.
As a result, bifacial solar panels boast extended lifespans, making them a reliable and long-lasting investment for harnessing clean energy. Their double-glass protection ensures superior durability.
Reduced Potential-induced Degradation (PID): Bifacial solar panels present a game-changing alternative to their mono-facial counterparts. The absence of a metal frame enhances their visual appeal but also mitigates the risk of potential-induced degradation (PID) for solar cells.
With no need for grounding, these panels offer unparalleled flexibility in design, including the sleek and alluring complete glass frame.
Impressive Aesthetics: Diverse in their designs, bifacial modules offer a plethora of options, including the elegant frameless variety.
Renowned for their visual appeal, many enthusiasts find the complete glass frame of bifacial solar panels to be highly aesthetic, distinguishing them from their monofacial counterparts.
Works Well in Diffuse Light: In addition to their numerous benefits, bifacial solar panels hold other advantages like mono-facial counterparts: exceptional performance in diffuse light conditions.
This remarkable feature makes them an economical choice, considering the long-term costs. The increased surface area of bifacial panels enables them to capture and convert diffuse light more effectively, ultimately reducing expenses compared to monofacial panels.
Longer Warranties: One of the notable advantages of opting for bifacial solar panels performance warranty period, which can stretch up to an impressive 30 years.
This extended assurance not only showcases the confidence of manufacturers in the durability and reliability of these panels but also provides peace of mind to solar energy enthusiasts.
Low maintenance: For solar systems, maintenance is usually a breeze, and the same holds true for Freyr Energy’s exceptional bifacial solar panels. With these innovative energy solutions, you can expect minimal upkeep and only periodic cleaning requirements.
Whether you’re considering solar panels for your home or any other application, the efficiency and ease of maintenance offered by bifacial solar panels make them an attractive choice.
Use of bifacial solar panels: When it comes to solar panels for home use, it’s essential to consider the advantages and limitations of bifacial panels. While they excel in generating more energy in stony, sandy, or snowy surroundings, their effectiveness on rooftops is hindered due to limited clearance for reflected light.
Types of Bifacial Solar Panels
Different types of bifacial solar panels for home enable numerous advantages of solar energy in the following factors:
Reinforced Durability: Glass/Glass Bifacial Panels
Discover the robustness of bifacial solar panels featuring double-sided glass surfaces. These structurally superior panels exhibit remarkable strength, enabling them to withstand heavy wind loads compared to their counterparts.
Balancing Weight and Cost: Glass/Transparent Backsheet
Delve into the realm of lightweight bifacial modules with a glass front side and a protective transparent back sheet. Weighing less than their glass/glass counterparts, these modules offer cost savings in transportation, labor, and tracker installations where applicable.
Market Dynamics: Trends in Glass-Glass and Glass-Transparent Backsheet Configurations
Explore the intriguing landscape of bifacial module market shares. While glass-glass configurations dominate the market due to their proven reliability, the scarcity of glass and concerns about weight have prompted some manufacturers to shift towards glass-transparent back sheet structures.
Bifacial Panels over Monofacial Panels
In the ever-evolving world of solar technology, advancements pave the way for progress. The question arises: will bifacial PV panels overshadow their mono-facial counterparts shortly in the context of solar panel in India? Before we deliver a verdict, let’s explore the differences between these two solar panel types.
- Polycrystalline Solar Panels: Focused on harnessing sunlight solely from the front side, these panels offer an efficiency range of 16-17%. In terms of cost, they currently stand at approximately ₹24.5 per watt solar panel price in India. However, these are subject to fluctuations based on various factors.
- Monocrystalline Solar Panels: Similar to polycrystalline panels, these mono-facial counterparts also collect sunlight from the front side only. With an efficiency range of 19-21%, they exhibit a higher performance level. However, the current cost for these panels amounts to roughly ₹29 per watt solar panel price in India.
- Bifacial Solar Panels: Setting a new standard, bifacial solar panels can capture sunlight from both the front and back sides. This groundbreaking feature boosts their efficiency to an impressive 22%. However, the advanced technology comes at a higher price, currently averaging around ₹28 per watt solar panel price in India.
It’s important to note that these price figures are indicative and subject to change due to various market factors. Furthermore, the performance of bifacial panels relies on the surface they are installed.
Surprisingly, snow can enhance its efficiency, as it reflects a significant amount of light. In snowy weather conditions, bifacial solar panels have the potential to deliver even better performance.
Bifacial solar panels outshine their mono-facial counterparts in terms of the advantages of solar energy. However, the decision between the two ultimately hinges on individual needs. In the past, the high cost of bifacial panels made them less favorable for residential applications.
But with recent advancements, the have significantly dropped, allowing bifacial solar panels to enter the residential sector. This development presents homeowners with a compelling opportunity to harness the benefits of enhanced solar panel efficiency.
Join Freyr Energy for the best bifacial solar panels for home use, where affordability meets increased performance.
What Are Bifacial Solar Panels And Are They Worth It?
Looking for a new renewable energy solution? Been considering installing solar panels at your home or office? You may want to consider upgrading from your traditional solar panels to bifacial solar panels. efficient, more durable and, in many ways, more powerful, bifacial solar panels might be exactly the solution you need to turn that solar power consideration into a firm purchasing decision.
What Exactly are Bifacial Solar Panels?
A bifacial solar panel is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than only producing solar power from one side (the front of a panel), a bifacial solar panel has “two faces” and is capable of producing solar energy from both sides. So, whatever direction the sun is shining, you can generate power.
Just like regular solar panels, bifacial solar panels come in many sizes and shapes, as well as designs. Some are meant to be installed anywhere you might install a traditional solar panel, while others are specifically designed to be installed on a reflective surface to take advantage of both sides of the panel. Some are immobile, while some are designed to move with the sun’s positioning throughout the day. Some are framed, some are frameless.
Typically, though, you won’t see bifacial solar panels tilted upward (or backward, depending on how you look at it) to such a large degree as traditional solar panels, as that somewhat limits the amount of light one side of the panel will receive. Laying your panel flat means zero light will reach one side of the panel, even though the opposite side is receiving full sun.
How do solar panels work?
But to fully understand how bifacial solar panels work, you need to know how solar panels work in general.
Traditional solar modules are sometimes referred to as monofacial solar panels. They work via solar cells on the panel’s surface, capturing photons (aka, tiny units of light and electromagnetic radiation) and then converting those photons into energy.
When you build a bifacial solar panel, though, you’re not doubling the number of cells, as you might assume. Instead, you’re changing the solar panel’s construction so that photons can reach the cells from two directions. So, rather than having a protective backsheet like you’d have on a monofacial solar panel, the bifacial solar panel features a clear back sheet, so light gets into both sides. This lets you harness not only sunlight but also reflected light.
Are Bifacial Solar Panels Really That Much Efficient Than Monofacial Solar Panels?
When correctly installed and operated at peak performance, yes, bifacial solar cells really are that much more efficient when it comes to producing electricity than monofacial solar panels. Again, this entirely relies on the panels being correctly installed and correctly operated. If you just lie your panel flat and the back of the panel can’t receive sunlight, you won’t see any significant increase in effectiveness or efficiency.
However, under the right conditions, a bifacial solar module can produce up to 35% more energy than a standard, immobile, monofacial solar panel, resulting in a decreased electricity cost of 16%.
What exactly makes bifacial systems more efficient?
Obviously those two-sided panels make for more sunlight absorption, but keep in mind that this design also helps in other ways.
Because the bifacial technology gathers light from reflective surfaces, too, it’s still relatively productive even when it’s not receiving direct sunlight, such as when the sky is cloudy.
Additionally, based on how you have your solar panels positioned, you could take advantage of two energy peaks (a time when the sun is positioned just right during the day to get the most light shining on your panel)—one peak for each side of the panel.
Are Bifacial Solar Panels a Good Fit for Me?
It all depends on a few factors.
Where do you plan on installing your solar panels?
Bifacial solar panels are pretty handy in small spaces, as you can take full advantage of the space you do have to generate as much energy as possible. You can essentially generate more energy with fewer panels because you’re generating energy from both sides of each panel.
But remember — those bifacial solar panels need to be receiving light from both sides. If you lay your panel flat or if you tilt it to such a degree that the front side is completely facing the sky and the rear side is not, zero light will reach the ground-facing side of the panel, making your investment a bit useless. So, you need to choose your installation site with care.
Because of all this, bifacial solar panels aren’t really popular with homeowners who want solar panels that will lie flush with their roof. The side of the panel facing your roof just won’t get any sun.
Instead, bifacial solar panels are often most popular with those who have enough unshaded room to set up a ground mount system, so they can tilt their panels to a smaller degree, allowing both sides of the panels to collect photons. (Though, if you really did want to keep your solar panels on the roof, there are systems that allow for rooftop bifacial solar panels — the panels just wouldn’t lie flush. One way to get around this? Install extra awnings, a carport or a pergola on your property, with tops designed specifically for bifacial solar panels; there’ll be enough slant for the solar panels to work efficiently, but it also creates usable space for your family.)
But beyond the amount of space that you have, and whether or not you plan to mount your solar panels on the ground or on the roof, you’ll also want to consider what lies beneath your solar panels. Yes — we did just say that bifacial solar panels should be mounted on the ground, ideally, but what exactly is on that ground?
Is it asphalt? Is it snow throughout most of the year? Is it a white-painted flat rooftop of a large skyscraper?
If the ground beneath your bifacial solar panels is very reflective (or, if it has a high albedo, the measurement for how well a surface reflects solar energy), you’re going to get a higher energy yield. Grass, soil and asphalt are generally low reflectors with low albedo, whereas metal roofs, cool roofs, sand and snowy yards are all high reflectors with high albedo.
What’s your budget?
If you’re already planning on installing a solar panel system of some type, then you know you’re in for an investment. In general, the average price per watt for solar panels in 2021 ranges from 2.40 to 3.22, according to Energy Sage. A 2019 study found that the cost per watt of bifacial panels (compared to monofacial panels) is an increase of anywhere from 0.01 to 0.20. So, at your most cost-effective peak, you can expect an investment of somewhere around 2.41 per watt, and that could climb upward to as much as 3.42 per watt.
But “watt” exactly does that mean?
The cost per watt for a solar panel system takes the total cost of the system and divides it by the number of watts of capacity in the system. So, rather than saying, “Oh, your system will cost 15,000,” an installer will give you a cost per watt estimate, which tells you how much you’re paying for each watt, or each unit of power the panels can produce under optimum energy production conditions. It’s like going to the produce section of your grocery store and paying for a bunch of bananas by the pound versus a set price for each banana.
All in all, though, you can expect bifacial solar panels to be more expensive than your traditional monofacial panels.
One other thing to consider when shopping for solar panels of any type? Tariffs. Previously, bifacial solar panels were exempt from solar panel tariffs, but as of 2020, that’s no longer the case.
Tariffs on solar panels have risen and lowered over the years, with tariffs sitting at anywhere from 15% to 25% in any given year. If budget is particularly important to you, and you want to save as much money as possible on your solar panels, whether or not you go with bifacial solar panels, you may want to purchase when the tariffs are low.
However, given all of the above, and taking into consideration the added efficiency of bifacial solar panels, some say that bifacial solar panels still aren’t a wise purchase for budget-conscious consumers, particularly average homeowners.
As an Unbound Solar article says, “Without the right racking setup, there is no guarantee you will get the efficiency boost from the backside of the panel. And the extra mounting costs to meet those requirements don’t justify the modest efficiency boost for small-scale installations.”
Are bifacial panels even available in your area?
Many shoppers won’t have problems accessing bifacial panels, but it’s still something to consider. There are many bifacial solar panel manufacturers out there, including LG, Amerisolar and Sunpreme. If there’s no local distributor in your area, you may have to get your solar system panels specially shipped in, which results in even higher costs for your installation.
But still, even if you find bifacial solar panels available in your area, you might not have that many options to choose from when it comes to manufacturers and models. For example, LG offers only one type of bifacial solar panels compared to its handful of traditional solar panels. The NeON 2 BiFacial line, the brand says, can produce up to 64.4% more energy depending on the conditions, over several days, compared to its monofacial modules.
Amerisolar offers quite a few more bifacial modules, but for the first-time solar shopper who doesn’t know a lot about the industry, the brand’s website can seem pretty technical and not very user-friendly. You won’t really learn much about bifacial modules by clicking around the website like you might by browsing LG’s offerings. You may also struggle to get in touch to learn more and potentially book an installation.
Sunpreme is even less user-friendly, with no real web presence and merely a LinkedIn page.
Your best bet when shopping for bifacial solar panels? Look for the local distributor in your area versus going straight to a manufacturer, and see what they can offer you. Talk to them about whether or not bifacial solar panels are right for you and what they might recommend based on your space and their knowledge of the solar industry.
The Verdict on Bifacial Solar Panels?
At the end of the day, if you’re a residential homeowner looking to install solar panels for increased energy efficiency and savings, you’re better off going with monofacial solar panels. While bifacial solar panels are future-forward, innovative and more effective, they are more costly, and the setup just isn’t right for a residential environment.
If, however, you have a fair amount of land or flat rooftop space and a relatively reflective surface (like a white concrete roof or sandy desert-like stretch of land), as well as a flexible budget, you could find that you’re able to easily take advantage of the benefits that come with installing bifacial solar panels, especially if you’re looking to install a large-scale solar project.
The verdict all just depends on your intended use and space.