Bifacial solar panels have grabbed everybody's attention in the solar PV industry -- for all the right reasons.
The tale of tariff exclusion and bifacial solar technologies
In June 2019, the US trade representative (USTR) given a notice announcing that all facial solar panels will be spared from President Trump's section 201 import tariff jobs.
After only four weeks, the USTR has determined to revoke the exemption on bifacial solar modules -- effectively dissolving it on October 28, 2019.
After evaluating its decision, the USTR, along with the Secretaries of Commerce and Energy, concluded that the exclusion of bifacial modules in the Section 201 tariffs undermined the efforts to safeguard domestic solar panel manufacturing.
In its Judgment, the USTR showed that international manufacturing of bifacial solar panels is growing. It contended that the extension of the exclusion would probably lead to increased imports of bifacial solar panels in the US, which would compete against the domestically produced orofacial and bifacial solar panels.
Therefore, bifacial products are now subjected to a 25% tariff as of October 28, 2019. This speed will fall to 20 per cent in 2020. Concerning the conclusion, CEO and president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Abigail Ross Hopper, said:
"We're saddened by USTR's decision to reverse the bifacial panel release. USTR granted the exemption only four weeks ago and just after a yearlong process that included comment and notice an inter-agency review.
In an unprecedented and extraordinary turn of events, the exemption was quickly rescinded with no opportunity for public comment and notice. This is squeezing the distribution of panels in America, thereby inflating costs for consumers. In its rush to a conclusion, USTR missed a chance to deal with the substantial shortage of domestic solar panels. Its decision will impede the development of an American engine.
We look forward to making our case through the pending midterm review."
Let's back-up: what exactly are bifacial solar cells, and how do they operate?
Bifacial solar panels have cells that absorb light from both the back and the front. That implies that besides capturing sunlight from the front of the forum.
They catch the valuable sunlight that's reflected, in addition to any diffused light that strikes the back of the solar cells. Hence, they absorb more sunlight and supply increased efficiency than mono facial solar cells.
This is an advancement over conventional 'mono facial' solar cells, which comprise the vast majority of current PV solar units. Monofacial panels can only generate power from only one side, which houses the solar cells and is directed towards sunlight.
What do the specialists say about bifacial solar technologies?
Solar industry pros are talking a lot about these exceptionally energy-efficient bifacial solar technologies. Here's what they have to say:
"With market penetration surpassing expectations in 2018, bifacial technology is set to account for one-third of solar module manufacturing by 2022."
- Edurne Zoco, Research Director at IHS Markit
"Bifacial panels are a no-brainer. They'll be the panel of options or the utility-scale sector. It's expected that the solar farm in York will create 20% more energy because of its merger of bifacial solar trackers and panels that let each panel follow the sun.
"However Bifacial technology may cost $0.05/W more to install than a mono facial PV system, a conservative 10 percent bifacial gain easily outweighs the risk."
Scott Stephens, Director of Technology Development in Clearway Energy
Who are the top bifacial solar panel producers?
'Bifacial' is undoubtedly the new buzzword in the solar sector. Bifacial panels have been the subject of discussion in trade shows and solar conferences.
Some solar companies are ahead of the curve and have attained high power output from their facial merchandise lines.
These are the significant players in bifacial solar panel production:
LG is now ruling the market by providing an energy-efficient facial using a front unit of 390 W. Their NeON two BiFacial solar panels have an efficacy of up to 18.7 per cent. These panels absorb the sun from the front and back sides using a transparent trunk.
Canadian Solar has merged innovative bifacial technology with its dual glass module manufacturing experience to produce the ultramodern BiKu bifacial panels. The panels include a well-engineered layout, an automatic manufacturing procedure, and rigorous BOM quality testing. Canadian Solar asserts that BiKu bifacial panels create up to 30% extra power from the backside. These solar systems are highly durable since they're made with anodized aluminium alloy frames.
Sunpreme's Maxima GxB 520 modules are made of HCT cells at a frameless double glass construction. They're famous for high power yield with a 20% backside power increase and above 600 W of bifacial output. Sunpreme's solar panels' thin double-glass structure provides appealing aesthetics, which Sunpreme claims are well-suited for carports, roofs, and canopies. Sunpreme's bifocals are free of potential induced degradation (PID) or light-induced degradation (LID).
JinkoSolar provides Bifacial 72M.
A 72-cell module is producing 380 W power. It raises systems' output by 5-25%, based on various reflective states. The distinct frameless design of Jinko solar panels significantly reduces the chance of this PID effect. Additionally, it's intended for high voltage (up to 1500 VDC) systems. The machine also claims only 0.5% annual power degradation, with 30 years of guarantee.
Another one of the panels, the popular Swan module, has united Cheetah bifacial cells and DuPont Tedlar PVF transparent film, letting them reach an output of up to 400 W on the front and 20% energy gain from the backside.
Other key market players to get bifacial solar panels.
Here's a list of several other prominent market players involved in producing advanced bifacial solar technologies.
Major solar projects employing bifacial solar technology
Several large-scale solar projects constructed with bifacial solar modules have come online recently, and there are more in the pipeline. These projects are a sign of how the bifacial solar business is booming globally. Below are a few noteworthy developments:
In June 2019, the Canadians Solar power was given to Brazilian solar energy project to set up, which was approximately 130,000 BiHiKu modules (of 51.1 MWp capacity)
In Feb 2019, Sunpreme and Tigo Energy finished a 750-kW bifacial system job for a commercial carport from the California Bay Area.
LONGi is working on a 224MW capacity power generation project in Mitchell County, Georgia. It's the most significant "bifacial tracker" power generation project in America.
The positive attitudes of industry specialists and ongoing project announcements demonstrate that the sun is shining brightly on bifacial solar panels.
Bifacial Panels have a bright future in the solar utility sector. But what about when it comes to solar? Are they a great fit for homes?
Are bifacial a fantastic choice for homes?
Short answer: No.
The primary cause for this is bifacial panels do not work well when fitted on rooftops. Rooftop solar panels are installed on a frame that only a couple inches between the meeting and the roof surface. This implies that minimal reflected sun reaches the back panel face, limiting bifacial solar production.
They require a great deal of space to prevent shading and absorb the reflected light correctly, making them less acceptable for residential properties where real estate is limited.
Finally, Bifacial solar panels currently include a substantial cost of premium residential setups. They're not likely to create the additional power needed to justify their higher cost.
Which means that conventional monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels continue to be the most cost-effective alternative for residential installations.
That being said, bifacial solar systems may nevertheless prove useful for specific residential applications. For example, bifacial-film solar cells make sense when used for freestanding structures such as pergolas, providing partial shade and generating energy from either side.
Bifacial systems can also work for regions where there isn't any hindrance to the manifestation of light. Canopies and awnings made from bifacial photovoltaic panels allow the reflected light to get to the panels' back and create additional sustainable energy for houses.
The bifacial Solar panels industry will take off, but not all future panels will be double-sided.
Bifacial Solar panels are being recognized as solar energy's next big thing. With a high energy generation rate, bifacially appear bound to take over America's solar utility market.
However, they're not likely to have much of an effect on the secure residential solar market. A bifacial solar system installed on the roof of a home can not catch the sun's reflecting rays. Their premium cost and frameless design, and bifacial solar technology won't match most homes.