As solar technology has improved over the last decade, the prices have dropped exponentially as module efficiency has advanced. In recent years, there’s been a growing concern that we are approaching an efficiency ceiling. People have come to wonder if future solar improvements will be through system solutions, such as coupling solar with storage, rather than through module technology innovation. But, a newer innovation is paving the way to the next generation of module technologies that will revolutionize solar efficiency for many applications.
Bifacial solar modules have the capability to generate electricity by capturing light from both sides of the module. It does not take a big stretch of the imagination to understand that this type of technology can dramatically shake up the solar market. Bifacial modules produce more energy, and have a lower degradation rate than standard modules. When assessing the financial returns of projects over their life cycle, these modules promise significant LCOE savings.
Because bifacial modules can generate power from the front and back of the module, they require less labor costs and balance of system costs to produce the same amount of energy. They can also produce more energy from the same project footprint, with minimal additional installation costs. Bifacial modules offer substantial savings for solar project financers.
Bifacial models are equipped with better cell technology. By using monocrystalline silicon cells, these bifacial modules offer customers much better energy conversion rates than traditional, polycrystalline PV modules. With higher efficiency cells and dual-glass structure, comes a more durable, efficient system that can reduce project costs across the board and significantly increase equipment longevity. Bifacial modules on the market can produce up to 30% more electricity than an equivalent monofacial module in certain environments. And, because of the increased durability, these modules can be offered with an extended warranty of 30 years at just 0.5% annual degradation rate.
Trina Solar recently won its first order for bifacial modules, for a utility-scale project in Golmud, Qinghai, China. The sandy surface on which this project is situated reflects a lot of light, making it ideal for bifacial modules. The project uses a tracker system, maximizing energy capture. This represents the second-largest order of bifacial modules in the world to date.
Bifacial solar modules are a disruptor technology to be excited about. The versatility of these products will allow a diverse portfolio of customers to invest in solar because of the benefits bifacial modules can deliver. These modules work great for utility projects, rooftops and specialty installations, such as floating solar projects. So, the next time someone says there’s not much more room for efficiency improvements in the solar market – let them know a new chapter in solar has just begun.
This article was contributed by Rijal Parjanya, product marketing manager at Trina Solar