German and US based manufacturer of top quality solar panels, Solar World AG launched their new bifacial solar modules in late 2015 at the industry trade show Solar Power International. However it was this month’s announcement of the first rollout of the new SolarWorld solar panels in the United States that has set tongues wagging.
The company announced their bifacial Bisun modules are being incorporated into an array at the University of Richmond in Virginia. The bifacial solar modules are being set alongside standard solar panels designed to act as a control group with the difference in performance data to be noted between the two arrays.
For the company has high hopes for the bifacial modules, which as the name suggests, means the solar panels can use light hitting both sides of each solar cell.
The company claims they boost performance by 25 percent (if the panel is mounted on a frame where reflected light can get to the underside of the panel), last longer and are more durable than standard solar panels.
While it’s fair to say the jury’s still out on the testing at the university, that didn’t stop the U.S. president of SolarWorld, from a Donald J. Trump-style extolling of the benefits of the technology.
“Thanks to the university, we will provide a system that produces clean power while also demonstrating the in-field capabilities of technological innovation,” he said. “Aside from making the university greener, this installation will provide a strong set of performance data in a real-world application. Bifacial PERC modules represent a significant technological advancement in photovoltaics, and SolarWorld is once again leading the deployment of cutting-edge solar technologies. We look forward to showing customers the finished system.”
The key claim is that they will out-perform standard solar panels by 25 percent. To unpick how this works we go back to the company’s original Sept 15 press release.
“Photoelectric surfaces on both sides of the new … bifacial solar panel’s solar cells – protected by a layer of glass on one side and a sturdy but lightweight clear back sheet on the other – will provide as much as 25 percent more power than conventional 72-cell modules, depending on installation conditions,” said the release.
“As an example, a SolarWorld 330-watt bifacial panel will produce energy equivalent to that of a conventional panel of up to about 410 watts. The new solar panel will feature high-wattage, mono-PERC (passivated emitter rear contact) solar cell technology, an advanced cell technology in which SolarWorld is the global volume leader.”
All well and good and great for the solar customer. However the claim appears to be under laboratory, (not real world) conditions, which is why the testing of the new SolarWorld solar panels on the roof of the University of Richmond, Virginia is so important. If the lab and pre-testing is backed up by empirical evidence, the bifacial Bosun modules could take their place as a key choice for solar customers looking to maximise energy input.
Please let us know your thoughts on the SolarWorld solar panels revolution, whether you think the bifacial panels are the array of the future. We’ll keep you posted on the results of the University of Richmond trial.