Bifacial Solar Panels
The solar industry is worth almost half a trillion dollars internationally, with hundreds of companies fighting over market share and hoping to claim the top spot. These companies’ primary way to one-up each other is through innovation and improvement on their products, predominantly panels and inverters. One of the recent innovations that have gained immense popularity is bifacial solar panels. Bifacial solar panels are solar panels that can produce electricity on both sides, whereas traditional solar panels can only produce on one side. These panels are designed to capture sunlight reflected onto the back of the panel and generate approximately 24% more electricity than their monofacial counterparts. This new technology is being touted by many as the next big step in the solar industry. Still, is it worth taking the risk on this new technology, or do they need a little time in the oven before taking over Australian roofs?
Production and Instillation
Bifacial panels can capture reflected sunlight either from the ground or highly reflective roofing materials. For this reason, both sides of the panel have to be exposed, meaning that the panel will not have a traditional back sheet. These panels have a multitude of designs that achieve this goal, including both framed and frameless models. These panels are predominantly monocrystalline, with only a few polycrystalline panels currently being on the market. The goal is to maximise production, with the technology being too new for many budget alternatives to be developed.
When installing these panels, a few factors need to be considered that are different from the installation process of traditional monofacial panels. First, as there is no backing on the panel, the coupling points are located in other areas that stallers may not be familiar with. These panels also often require their custom clamps to attach them to existing rails, especially the frameless panels, which require cushioned clamps that limited to a specified tightness that will allow the glass panels to be safely held without the risk of installers cracking the glass that makes up the entirety of the panel.
When installing these panels, it is essential to consider the reflectiveness of the surface that they are mounted on. The additional production that these panels offer come entirely from the reflected and refracted light that hits the back of the panel, which is usually not utilised by traditional solar panels. The best roofs for these panels are light coloured roofs that have a relatively minor slope due to the higher level of light reflected for a longer time throughout the day. This need for reflective surfaces is why ground-mounted bifacial systems are predominantly mounted on light coloured sand or gravel as they reflect more light than grass or dirt. Unfortunately, this reliance on reflective surfaces has delayed the development and production of bifacial solar panels. They cannot produce at nearly the same level on darker surfaces, making the rating of their output impossible.
There is also a trend of utilising these semi-transparent panels as awnings and patio coverings. This generates electricity whilst protecting from the elements and shade. This sort of structure is typically considered visually appealing and may provide a solution to introducing solar power into local infrastructures, such as bus stops.
These panels are still a relatively new technology and are still developing the infrastructure required to roll these panels out on the scale of monofacial panels. However, once these panels’ issues. They have been addressed; these panels will likely revolutionise the solar industry. Not only do they have the potential to produce more electricity than their monofacial counterparts, but they are also considered to be much more stylish than traditional panels, meaning that aesthetics will no longer be as big an obstacle for many consumers who have previously been reluctant to install solar panels. Companies that have begun to manufacture these panels for residential use include LG energy and Jinko solar, with more following suit as the monocrystalline cells required become cheaper and easier to produce. If you have any more questions about these panels or any other solar solutions emerging onto the market, feel free to get in touch with one of our qualified solar designers below!