Optimization and Performance of Bifacial Solar Modules: A Global Perspective

Xingshu Sun, Mohammad Ryyan Khan, Chris Deline, Muhammad Ashraful Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus Citations

Abstract

With the rapidly growing interest in bifacial photovoltaics (PV), a worldwide map of their potential performance can help assess and accelerate the global deployment of this emerging technology. However, the existing literature only highlights optimized bifacial PV for a few geographic locations or develops worldwide performance maps for very specific configurations, such as the vertical installation. It is still difficult to translate these location- and configuration-specific conclusions to a general optimized performance of this technology. In this paper, we present a global study and optimization of bifacial solar modules using a rigorous and comprehensive modeling framework. Our results demonstrate that with a low albedo of 0.25, the bifacial gain of ground-mounted bifacial modules is less than 10% worldwide. However, increasing the albedo to 0.5 and elevating modules 1 m above the ground can boost the bifacial gain to 30%. Moreover, we derive a set of empirical design rules, which optimize bifacial solar modules across the world and provide the groundwork for rapid assessment of the location-specific performance. We find that ground-mounted, vertical, east-west-facing bifacial modules will outperform their south-north-facing, optimally tilted counterparts by up to 15% below the latitude of 30° for an albedo of 0.5. The relative energy output is reversed in latitudes above 30°. A detailed and systematic comparison with data from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America validates the model presented in this paper.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1601-1610
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Energy
Volume212
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5J00-70091

Keywords

  • Bifacial solar module
  • Global optimization
  • Global performance
  • Meteorological database
  • Photovoltaics
  • Self-shading
  • Solar energy
  • Vertical solar module

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