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Bigger, better, bifacial

EKO Instruments are betting big on bifacial PV, delivering industry-leading accuracy with the most comprehensive package of bifacial and albedo measurement solutions available.

Bifacial photovoltaic (BPV) technology has been around for a long time, but only since 2012, when the first cost-effective bifacial panels entered the market, has it started to attract serious market consideration. It has been accelerating rapidly since 2019. Though there’s a long way to go before BPV can claim to challenge the ubiquity of mono-facial PV, the key characteristics of BPV make a compelling case for its not-too-distant victory over traditional technologies.

A 2019 market research report published by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (WoodMac) predicts that annual global bifacial module capacity will exceed 21 gigawatts by 2024 while the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV), published by the German engineering association VDMA, forecasts that the growth in bifacial technologies will account for 80% of production by 2031.

However, despite such progress, many organisations and individuals across the solar energy industry are still unsure, often lacking confidence in the viability of the technology itself or the potential return on investment. Many across the solar industry also find it strange how fast bifacial swept the market.

So, what are the key characteristics of BPV? What has changed to make it suddenly so popular? And how can a planner, engineer, researcher, or investor, determine whether or not to choose BPV over tried and tested mono-facial PV?

The answer is ‘albedo’, reflected solar energy; our ability to measure that reflected energy, and the ability of solar arrays to convert it into electricity. Bifacial PV modules harness solar energy from both the front and rear side of the PV panel; albedo, being the energy usually reflected from the ground or surrounding environment.

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