One of the main trends observed in recent years is the growth of bifacial module installations.
Although the technology itself is not “new” – bifacial modules have been around for many years – it is relatively recently that the use of these modules has become more common in the solar photovoltaic sector, as it was previously considered like fairly new
It’s easy to see why it’s become more popular. In addition to achieving maximum energy performance using both sides of the panel, the technology itself has seen significant cost reductions compared to conventional modules, making it a more feasible solution for a greater number of projects. .
Growth was also fueled by the development of PERC (passive emitter rear cell) technology and favorable tariffs and subsidies in some markets.
In fact, a report last year from the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaic (ITRPV) predicted that the market share of bifacial modules would increase from 10% in 2020 to at least 35% in 2030.
This mirrors a 2019 report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables that predicted bifacial module capacity to exceed 21GW by 2024, citing Asia-Pacific, North America and the Middle East as the largest markets. of growth.
What are the advantages of using bifacial modules?
As mentioned above, the main advantage is that they offer higher energy efficiency.
According to a SolarPro study of PV module manufacturers, bifacial modules have shown an energy yield increase of up to 11% in fixed-tilt systems and 27% in tracking systems, compared to traditional tilt-up modules of similar classification. .
This trade-off between extra cost and extra performance is increasingly seen as an investment value.
This has been particularly evident in the growing adoption of bifacial modules in large commercial, industrial and utility markets, as they benefit from increased solar output and reduced energy costs, especially in tracking systems.
What are the challenges?
However, as with many technologies, problems remain. While the side facing the sun functions in the same way as traditional modules, variables on the back influence the level of reflected light it receives, for example the quality or color of the roof or floor. This unpredictability makes it a technology that is not suitable for all applications.
Bifacial modules also present a challenge for inverter manufacturers, who must ensure that their technology can handle the higher level of input current generated compared to conventional modules. In any installation, the inverter must allow the maximum current of the strings; with bifacial modules, the installed inverters must be able to withstand an even higher current.
Therefore, the load flexibility requirement of the inverter is crucial, which means matching the right inverter to a bifacial module project is essential to make the project a success.
Therefore, the new and next generation of inverters are designed to cope with the increased input current requirements of bifacial module systems. Inverter enhancements also include greater maximum power point tracking (MPPT) granularity and support for higher input currents, making a multi-MPPT string inverter the optimal choice for bifacial module installations. .
Due to cost reductions and an increase in successful projects using bifacial modules, installations are expected to expand in almost every country.
Although they have their drawbacks, the potential for superior energy efficiency means they will remain a popular choice for large commercial, industrial and utility installations, especially tracking systems.
This means that for installers, choosing the right investment partner will be crucial to maximizing the bifacial opportunity.