Harnessing solar energy: new method improves readings of double-sided panels

A leading laboratory in photonics and renewable energy at the University of Ottawa has developed a new method for measuring the solar energy produced by bifacial solar panels, the double-sided solar technology which is expected to meet increased global energy demands moving forward.
Harnessing solar energy: new method improves readings of double-sided panels
Courtesy of NREL.

Published in the journal Joule, this study from the SUNLAB team in the Faculties of Engineering and Science proposes a characterisation method that will improve the measurement of bifacial panels indoors by considering external effects of ground cover such as snow, grass and soil. This will provide a way to consistently test bifacial solar panel performance indoors that accurately represents how the panels will perform outdoors.

With bifacial photovoltaics expected to provide over 16 percent of global energy demand by 2050, the SUNLAB’s methodology will improve international device measurement standards which currently do not distinguish between ground cover.

“Our proposed characterisation method, the scaled rear irradiance method, is an improved method for indoor-measuring and modelling of bifacial devices that is representative of outdoor environmental conditions” said Erin Tonita, lead author and a Physics PhD student studying under Professor Karin Hinzer, whose research group develops new ways to harness the sun’s energy. “Incorporating this new method into future bifacial standards would provide a consistent methodology for testing bifacial panel performance under ground conditions including snow, grass, and soil, corresponding to globally varying illumination conditions.”

Photovoltaics is the study of converting solar energy into electricity through semiconducting materials, such as silicon. In bifacial solar panels, the semiconducting material is wedged between two sheets of glass to allow for sunlight collection on both sides, with one side typically angled towards the sun and the other side angled towards the ground. The additional light collected by bifacial solar panels on the rear-side offers an advantage over traditional solar panels, with manufacturers touting up to a 30 percent increase in production compared to traditional solar panels. Bifacial solar panels are also more durable than traditional panels and can produce power for over 30 years.

“Implementation of this method into international standards for such panels can enable predictions of outdoor bifacial panel performance to within 2 percent absolute” added Mr Tonita, who expects the benefits of this methodology to include:

    Allowing comparisons between existing and emerging bifacial technologies.

    Enhancing performance via ground cover specific design optimisation.

    Increasing solar panel deployments in non-traditional markets.

    Reducing investment risk in bifacial panel deployments.

    Improving bifacial panel manufacture datasheets.

“This method is of particular importance as renewable energy penetration increases towards a net-zero world, with bifacial photovoltaics projected to contribute over 16 percent of the global energy supply by 2050, or around 30,000 TWh annually” said Professor Hinzer, founder of SUNLAB and the University Research Chair in Photonic Devices for Energy and a Professor at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, whose SUNLAB researchers worked in collaboration with Arizona State University for the study. “This will extend current International Electrochemical Commission standards for bifacial solar panel measurements, enabling accurate comparisons of bifacial panel technologies, application-specific optimisation, and the standardisation of bifacial panel power ratings.”

Housed at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Research in Photonics, SUNLAB is the premier Canadian modelling and characterisation laboratory for next generation bifacial, multi-junction, and concentrator solar devices.

For additional information:

SUNLAB University of Ottawa

Baterías con premio en la gran feria europea del almacenamiento de energía
El jurado de la feria ees (la gran feria europea de las baterías y los sistemas acumuladores de energía) ya ha seleccionado los productos y soluciones innovadoras que aspiran, como finalistas, al gran premio ees 2021. Independientemente de cuál o cuáles sean las candidaturas ganadoras, la sola inclusión en este exquisito grupo VIP constituye todo un éxito para las empresas. A continuación, los diez finalistas 2021 de los ees Award (ees es una de las cuatro ferias que integran el gran evento anual europeo del sector de la energía, The smarter E).