Artificial Ground Reflector Size and Position Effects on Energy Yield and Economics of Single-Axis-Tracked Bifacial Photovoltaics

Mandy Lewis, Silvana Ovaitt, Byron McDanold, Chris Deline, Karin Hinzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Artificial ground reflectors improve bifacial energy yield by increasing both front and rear-incident irradiance. Studies have demonstrated an increase in energy yield due to the addition of artificial reflectors; however, they have not addressed the effect of varying reflector dimensions and placement on system performance and the impact of these parameters on the reflectors' financial viability. We studied the effect of high albedo (70% reflective) artificial reflectors on single-axis-tracked bifacial photovoltaic systems through ray-trace modeling and field measurements. In the field, we tested a range of reflector configurations by varying reflector size and placement and demonstrated that reflectors increased daily energy yield up to 6.2% relative to natural albedo for PERC modules. To confirm the accuracy of our model, we compared modeled and measured power and found a root mean square error (RMSE) of 5.4% on an hourly basis. We modeled a typical meteorological year in Golden, Colorado, to demonstrate the effects of artificial reflectors under a wide range of operating conditions. Seventy percent reflective material can increase total incident irradiance by 1.9%-8.6% and total energy yield by 0.9%-4.5% annually after clipping is considered with a DC-AC ratio of 1.2. Clipping has a significant effect on reflector impact and must be included when assessing reflector viability because it reduces reflector energy gain. We calculated a maximum viable cost for these improvements of up to $2.50-4.60/m2, including both material and installation, in Golden. We expanded our analysis to cover a latitude range of 32-48 degrees N and demonstrated that higher-latitude installations with lower energy yield and higher diffuse irradiance content can support higher reflector costs. In both modeling and field tests, and for all locations, the ideal placement of the reflectors was found to be directly underneath the module due to the optimized rear irradiance increase.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-87437


  • artificial reflectors
  • bifacial modules
  • high albedo
  • single axis tracking


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