Track to the Future: Best Practices for Bifacial in Modeling Software

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On this episode of Track to the Future, host Tyler Kern was joined by Array Vice President, Product Management Jon Sharp and Director of Product Innovation Kyumin Lee to discuss the data-validated best practices for using bifacial solar cells at PV power plants.

Monofacial cells were the standard up until the last decade or so, when bifacial cells became more commercially viable.

While reports that bifacial cells boost energy yield by as much as 20-30% are exaggerated, a third-party test conducted by Array in conjunction with PV Lighthouse and CFV Solar found that a 5-10% yield increase was certainly realistic.

“One of the problems with the early days of bifacial testing was that the testing was done by research institutes and universities with small-scale setups. … All those things have resulted in very generous gain numbers in the order of 20 to 30%,” Lee said. “But what we are seeing now and what all the new modeling software are predicting is that for (large-scale installations), the number you should be expecting is in the range of 5 to 10%.”

As a result of this field-tested PV research project, best practices and data inputs have been established that can help utilities, designers, solar developers, and owner/operators more accurately calculate and model power yield across the lifecycle of a utility-scale PV power plant.

These best practices include things like optimal mounting height, width, spacing between rows, parameters to model performance in software solutions, and more that can help PV plants best understand their bifacial modules’ performance.

Further, modeling software like PVsyst can help these groups facilitate project planning and more confidently calculate yield, leading to more efficient bifacial modules and an understanding of how to get the most out of their potential.

“People want to know how to use and how to model bifacial technology,” Sharp said. “So, Array Technologies, in conjunction with (independent labs and modelers) has taken a systematic approach to answering those questions realistically with field data, as well as a modeling tool corroborated with PVsyst modeling.

“The conclusion is that PVsyst can be used with confidence. It’s a tool that will give accurate results if you put the correct information into it.”

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