Bifacial Solar Panel: The Newest Solar Panels !

Mono-crystalline, Poly-crystalline, Thin-film, and then come bifacial type solar panels. The newest member of the solar panel family, bifacial solar panels are what their name suggests: panels with two energy-producing surfaces. In the year 1981, Isofoton became the first company to mass-produce bifacial solar cells. Even so, the bifacial solar modules only make up for 1% of the global solar installations.

Bifacial Solar Panels

What are Bifacial Solar panels?

Unlike the traditional solar panels, Bifacial ones operate at both front and rear ends. It means that both the front and the back ends of a bifacial panel can convert solar energy into electricity.

Most traditional solar panels have cells on the front and aluminum casing on the rear. Bifacial panels come with solar cells at the front and a transparent back sheet or tempered glass at the rear.

Bifacial Solar Panel


How do Bifacial Solar Panels Work?

Just like the moon, many materials of lighter color show albedo, the property to reflect incident light. Surfaces like sand or a floor with white paint reflect more light in comparison with black surfaces like asphalt or dark dirt. Bifacial panel technology takes advantage of the albedo of surfaces.

In simple words, the dual-surface of bifacial panels receives solar energy on both back and front surfaces. The front of the panel gets direct sunlight, whereas the rear gets the light reflected by the ground/surface beneath.

Note that, the albedo (the reflection of light) does not make up for the majority of bifacial solar panel’s total electricity production. The rear end of the bifacial panel serves as an additional source for facilitating electricity.

Advantages of Bifacial solar panels

The following are the most evident advantages of using bifacial solar panels:

  • Better Performance: Having two surfaces that convert solar energy into electricity makes the bifacial panels more efficient than a traditional panel. The use of solar trackers can help take the efficiency as high as 27%.
  • Maximum usage of High- Albedo Locations: Areas like desserts and new real-estate can benefit from the use of bifacial solar systems.
  • Balanced System: Bifacial solar modules exhibit a synergy between the rear-facing surface and better ventilation. The Panels are about the ground at a set position that prevents excess heat beneath the surface.
  • Aesthetics: Unlike traditional panels, bifacial panels come in framed as well as frameless designs. These panels are more aesthetic than traditional ones.

What about Solar Tariff and Bifacial Solar panels?

After the imposition of a solar tariff on imports of solar panels and modules by the Trump Administration in January 2018, it was time for bifacial panels to fall into the circle. The U.S.

The administration set withdrawal on the exclusion of the bifacial panels from the solar tariffs that safeguards them. The exclusion was to end and come to affect by, but not before, May 2020.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and other developers saw the exclusion as a means to cope with an “acute shortage” of domestic panels available to U.S. utility-scale projects. The import of bifacial solar panels does not harm domestic producers because domestic producers do not produce utility-scale bifacial solar panels.

The U.S. Court of International Trade agreed with renewables developer Invenergy and SEIA that the Trade Representative’s act of withdrawing its exemption for bifacial modules was unlawful.

After receiving some backlash, and later, support from SEIA and other developers, the bifacial modules have the same exemptions as they were after the original grant in June 2019.

Shortcomings of bifacial Solar Modules

Bifacial technology shows promising enhancement in the energy production of solar panels. However, how far can their usability go? Below are some of the shortcomings of Bifacial solar panels:

  • Not all surfaces need to reflect the same amount of light. Non-uniform irradiation of the rear of bifacial panels is a hindrance to their productivity and efficiency.
  • Unlike traditional solar panels, broken bifacial panels are almost non-repairable and of no use.
  • Bifacial solar modules are prone to strong winds.
  • They are price-premium.

Where to use Bifacial Solar panels?

In May, The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NERL) began a study of bifacial performance at its headquarters in Colorado. It is now starting to make data from test installations publically available. 

Not all of the surfaces reflect light with excellent efficiency. Thus, the widespread use of bifacial panels is feasible only with the use of albedo-enhancing material. Yet, there is no cost-effective solution for large scale. Therefore, the most promising application of bifacial solar systems seems to be at locations with a high albedo, such as deserts and wastelands.

Bifacial solar modules are excellent for use in commercial or utility-scale projects. Their price does not make them the ideal solution for residential solar. However, in some cases, residential bifacial solar panels can work.

A Pergola that uses bifacial panels makes complete sense for the fact that its design does not have to give full shade to the user! Residential solar canopies can also use bifacial solar panels, as they keep up with aesthetics.