Chapter 8: A 'Global' View on Bifacial Gain: Dependence on Geographic Location and Environmental Conditions

Christopher Deline, Eric Gerritsen, Gaby Janssen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The simulation results presented in this chapter demonstrate how bifacial PV systems can bring a performance gain all around the globe, resolving a certain misbelief that they may only form a niche market restricted to specific locations or installations. Global predictions, based on irradiance, indicate bifacial gains in the order of 50% of the natural albedo for equator-facing systems with optimized tilt angle. In locations with low clearness index, the bifacial gain can even be higher. At system level the bifacial gain will be reduced by 20% to 50% relative to a free-standing panel, due to increased self-shading and to limitation of the diffuse irradiance on the rear by adjacent sheds. Even though the rear side irradiance of a bifacial module is inherently inhomogeneous, due to self-shading and external mounting structures, our simulations have shown that the RSD of the total irradiance does not exceed 5%, even at very high albedo, and will usually be much smaller. The simulation methods applied in this chapter and their ongoing integration into commercially available software tools, like PVsyst, will give system designers and installers more visibility on the configuration layout of a bifacial PV plant at their specific location, the associated bifacial gain and the effect on their return on investment.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationBifacial Photovoltaics: Technology, Applications and Economics
Subtitle of host publicationIET Energy Engineering, Volume 107
EditorsJ. Libal, R. Kopecek
StatePublished - 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-5K00-70970


  • environmental factors
  • photovoltaic power systems
  • power system simulation
  • solar cells


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