Understanding Bifacial PV Modeling: Raytracing and View Factor Models

Research output: NRELPresentation


As part of the PV Magazine Webinar 'View-factor vs. ray tracing - which bifacial modelling techniques should you use?,' the second part lead by NREL will explore the different rear-irradiance calculation software, which fall into two categories: view-factor and ray-tracing models. View factor models assume isotropic scattering of reflected rays, allowing for calculation of irradiance by integration. Due-diligence software such as PVSyst or SAM use the view-factor model. Ray-tracing models simulate multipath reflection and absorption of individual rays entering a scene. Raytracing software such as bifacial_radiance, which is the only available open-source toolkit, offers the possibility of reproducing complex scenes, including shading or finite-system edge effects. This can be useful to evaluate specific system geometries, shading and obstructions, areas of different albedo and electrical mismatch, all topics of interest to the prediction of bifacial performance. Model agreement for view factors and bifacial_radiance software is improving and has been shown to be between 2% (absolute) when compared with measured results.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages29
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePresented at the PV Magazine Webinar: 'View-Factor vs. Ray Tracing - Which Bifacial Modelling Techniques Should You Use?,' 18 December 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5K00-75628


  • bifacial gain
  • bifacial PV
  • bifacial_radiance
  • modeling
  • raytrace
  • rear irradiance
  • view factor


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