Bifacial Solar Panels

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Bifacial solar panels capture sunlight from both sides, increasing energy generation compared to traditional monofacial panels. This is particularly beneficial in areas with high albedo (reflectivity), such as deserts and snow-covered regions.

Impact on climate action

Bifacial Solar Panels in Utility Scale Solar PV amplify climate action by enhancing energy generation efficiency. By capturing sunlight from both sides, these panels increase energy output and decrease the land required for solar farms. This innovation accelerates the transition to clean, renewable energy, mitigating carbon emissions.

Underlying
Technology

  • Bifacial Solar Cells: Bifacial solar panels utilize solar cells that can capture sunlight from both sides. This is achieved by using a transparent backsheet or frame that allows light to pass through to the backside of the cell. The front side of the cell absorbs direct sunlight, while the backside can absorb reflected and diffused light.
  • Photovoltaic Effect: The photovoltaic effect, which is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, occurs in both the front and backside of bifacial solar cells. This allows bifacial panels to generate more electricity compared to traditional monofacial panels, especially in environments with high albedo (reflectivity).

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Efficiency Bifacial Solar Cells: Advancements in solar cell technology, such as passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) cells and heterojunction (HJT) cells, have improved the efficiency of bifacial panels. These cells are designed to maximize light absorption and minimize energy losses.
  • Optimized Panel Design: Innovations in panel design, such as using transparent backsheets and optimizing the spacing between cells, have improved the light capture and energy generation capabilities of bifacial panels.
  • Advanced Mounting Systems: Specialized mounting systems for bifacial panels have been developed to optimize the angle and height of the panels, maximizing backside light capture and overall energy production.
  • Bifacial Performance Modeling and Simulation: Advanced software tools are being used to model and simulate the performance of bifacial solar panels in different environments and configurations. This helps to optimize system design and predict energy generation accurately.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advanced Solar Cell Development
  • Energy Harvesting Technology
  • Solar Panel Design Optimization
  • Bifacial Solar Panel Applications
  • Albedo Effect in Solar Energy
  • Solar Panel Performance Modeling
  • Research in Solar Panel Efficiency
  • Commercial Implementation of Bifacial Solar Panels

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Raptor Maps:
    • Technology Enhancement: Raptor Maps specializes in AI-driven software solutions for the management and optimization of solar energy assets. While they may not directly produce bifacial solar panels, their software could certainly be used to analyze the performance of such panels within a solar farm.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Raptor Maps stands out for its focus on leveraging AI and drone technology to streamline solar asset management processes. Their platform offers a comprehensive suite of tools for monitoring, diagnostics, and predictive maintenance.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Raptor Maps serves solar project developers, EPC contractors, asset owners, and O&M providers seeking efficient and cost-effective solutions for solar asset management.
  • Oxford Photovoltaics:
    • Technology Enhancement: Oxford Photovoltaics specializes in the development of perovskite-based solar cells, which have the potential to significantly enhance the efficiency of solar panels. While they may not produce bifacial solar panels directly, their technology could be integrated into the production of such panels to improve their performance.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Oxford Photovoltaics stands out for its pioneering work in perovskite solar cell technology, which has the potential to revolutionize the solar industry by offering higher efficiency and lower costs compared to traditional silicon-based solar cells.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Oxford Photovoltaics targets solar panel manufacturers, research institutions, and renewable energy companies seeking to adopt advanced solar cell technologies for improved performance and cost-effectiveness.
  • Sistine Solar:
    • Technology Enhancement: Sistine Solar is known for its SolarSkin™ technology, which allows solar panels to blend aesthetically with their surroundings. While their focus is not directly on bifacial solar panels, their innovative approach to solar panel design could complement the use of bifacial panels in certain applications.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Sistine Solar stands out for its innovative approach to solar panel aesthetics, offering customizable designs that can be integrated into various architectural and environmental settings.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Sistine Solar serves residential and commercial customers, architects, and solar installers seeking visually appealing solar solutions that seamlessly integrate into buildings and landscapes.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is renowned for its pioneering work on Bifacial Solar Panels, focusing on enhancing the efficiency, durability, and cost-effectiveness of these innovative solar photovoltaic (PV) modules.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing novel materials, manufacturing processes, and optical designs that maximize the energy yield and reliability of bifacial solar panels under various operating conditions and geographic locations.
    • End-use Applications: Their work has applications in utility-scale solar farms, commercial rooftops, and residential solar installations. For example, they’re researching advanced anti-soiling coatings and self-cleaning mechanisms that reduce dust buildup and maintain high transmission rates on the front and rear surfaces of bifacial solar panels, optimizing the tilt angle, row spacing, and ground cover ratio of solar arrays to maximize the rear-side irradiance gain and minimize shading losses, and investigating machine learning algorithms that analyze historical weather data and solar panel performance metrics to predict the energy yield and financial return on investment of bifacial PV systems.
  • Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts cutting-edge research on Bifacial Solar Panels, exploring novel materials, device architectures, and system integration approaches to enhance the performance and reliability of bifacial solar PV technology.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing advanced characterization techniques, simulation models, and experimental testbeds that enable comprehensive analysis and optimization of bifacial solar panels at the module, array, and system levels.
    • End-use Applications: Their work finds applications in agrivoltaic systems, floating solar installations, and building-integrated photovoltaics. For instance, they’re researching spectral selective coatings and light trapping structures that enhance the absorption and conversion efficiency of bifacial solar cells across a broad range of wavelengths, designing flexible and lightweight bifacial modules that can conform to curved or irregular surfaces, and exploring innovative mounting and tracking systems that adapt to changing environmental conditions and optimize energy capture from both the front and rear sides of solar panels.
  • University of New South Wales (UNSW):
    • Research Focus: UNSW is a global leader in Bifacial Solar Panel research, spearheading advancements in cell design, module manufacturing, and system integration for bifacial PV applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing high-efficiency silicon solar cells, transparent conductive materials, and low-reflectivity encapsulants that enable bifacial solar panels to achieve higher energy conversion efficiencies and longer operational lifetimes compared to conventional monofacial modules.
    • End-use Applications: Their work has applications in desert environments, snow-covered regions, and urban environments with high albedo surfaces. For example, they’re researching bifacial solar modules with textured front and rear surfaces that minimize reflection losses and enhance light trapping, developing novel encapsulation materials and sealing techniques that prevent moisture ingress and mechanical degradation in harsh outdoor conditions, and investigating the performance of bifacial PV systems in different climates and geographic locations through field trials and long-term monitoring campaigns.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Bifacial solar panels are already being implemented in commercial-scale projects around the world. For example, a 312 MW bifacial solar farm in China is expected to generate 25% more electricity than a comparable monofacial farm.