Renewable power left coal behind on total power output for the first time in history, generating 68.5 million megawatt-hours while the latter contributed 60 million megawatt-hours. Perovskite, a high-efficiency solar cell compound that was once written off as vaporware was finally given the green light for mass production. And as the solar tax credit is all set to fall to 26%, this will be the last year residential consumers can enjoy the full 30% of it.
A lesser-known piece of news that may have gone under the radar is that the US Trade Representative has exempted bifacial solar panels from solar duties. The 30% tariff on solar panel parts made abroad had threatened the industry. However, the exemption is certainly a move in the right direction.
Bifacial solar panels have been gaining steam (pun intended) in renewable energy circles for some time now. The panels present numerous advantages over their one-faced cousins that can really help reduce costs and increase output like never before.
So, What’s the Deal With Bifacial Solar Panels?
At the face of it, two-sided solar panels don’t make sense. Only one side could receive sunlight, so what’s the point of that other side that’s going to sit in the shade? There’s more ambient light in any given environment than just that coming from the sun. A lot of light getting reflected from surrounding features can also be put to good use. Known as the Albedo effect, reflected light is usually a hot topic in global warming debates and played second fiddle in solar power. Until now, that is.
Traditional mono-faced solar panels are usually incapable of picking it up properly since they are pointed directly at the sun. Bifacial solar panels, on the other hand, are designed to pick up all that extra solar radiation, and thus offer up to 20% more power than one-faced panels, particularly in the winter months when a lot of light is being reflected by snow.
Silfab’s SLA-X bifacial solar panels utilize n-type silicon wafers which are doped with phosphorus instead of boron as is the case with p-type solar panels. When silicon ingots are grown, they carry an increased concentration of oxygen because of quartz, which is used in the smelting process. The oxygen reacts with boron in a way that damages solar panel efficiency. The same effect is absent from phosphorus-doped silicon. Indeed, the highest efficiency solar panels out in the market today are n-type.
The addition of another solar panel adds other advantages, too. You can enjoy greater power output from a smaller land footprint. While bifacial solar panels come at a premium, customers can save up on a reduced balance of systems, thereby reducing LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy).
Another interesting discovery is that bifacial panels are also better at shedding snow. A 10-month study by Saint Lawrence college bifacial panels performed at least 10% better than monofacial panels when installed at a 20-degree tilt. Because of the Albedo effect, radiation being reflected from under the panel was passing through bifacial modules and melting the snow on top.
What Makes the Silfab SLA-X 60 Cell Bifacial Solar Panel Different?
While the efficiency and reduced footprint of bifacial solar panels speak for themselves, Silfab brings a few more advantages to the table that are near absent from the market. It’s hard to convey the effect sound manufacturing processes can have on the overall quality and life of a product. Silfab realized that the only way to ensure the longest possible lifespan was to enable end-to-end control over the entire value chain.
Case in point, typical n-type solar cells in the market witness a degradation of 0.8% per year. However, Silfab’s highly automated manufacturing methods ensure all solar cell degradation remains below 0.3% a year. In fact, Silfab is so confident in their module’s performance that they offer an astounding 25 year warranty and a 30 year guarantee for them.
They achieved such parameters thanks to advanced, completely automated ISO 9001-2015 certified precision engineering plants in Toronto, Canada and Bellingham, Washington. The monocrystalline modules themselves are the product of a partnership between the German institute of research ISC Konstanz and Megacell S.R.L. The SLA-X line of solar panels also offer 22.7% module efficiency plus 30% backside contribution and are also designed from the ground-up to be an aesthetic addition to a property.
When Does Investing in SLA-X Make Sense?
Since cost is one of the bigger factors determining purchase intent, contractors will respond to the (slightly) higher sticker price of bifacial modules with hesitation. However, while the sunlight being collected is free, the land upon which those panels will go on is anything but.
While monofacial solar panels are ideal for rooftops, bifacial panels win hands down for ground-based projects. A 12 month study by Sandia National Laboratory comparing mono and bifacial solar panels found that bifacial panels out-performed monofacial panels by 17% to 132% over five tests. Bifacial panels exhibited the greatest gains in the early hours and evening times while midday gains were smallest.
Another study by MegaEngineering showed that fixed bifacial systems performed 20% better than fixed standard systems and experience an additional 10% increase with a tracker. As land-based solar installations like commercial and parking lot projects require efficient real estate utilization too, installers can greatly reduce their footprint (and LCOE) by opting for bifacial panels instead.
Bifacial solar panels are finally becoming a mainstream addition to the renewable movement. As solar becomes (even) more popular, consumers and installers alike will begin to feel the land crunch soon enough. Bifacial solar panels such as the Silfab SLA-X 60 cell can be a viable investment in such cases, offering high kWh to Wp and kWh to acre ratio than traditional solutions. Likewise, consumers with flat-topped roofs will benefit greatly from bifacial modules, too.
Silfab’s latest addition to their solar panel lineup presents numerous advantages to enterprising installers who are looking to offer their customers better ways to utilize their real estate. If you’re interested in learning more about how the SLA-X can help you do so, feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email. We will be glad to help you figure out the best product for your requirements.
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