As the cost of traditional monofacial PV modules has dropped, so has the cost of bifacial module technology. However, a cost difference remains between the two technologies. Whether the increased efficiency offered by bifacial technology outweighs the extra upfront capital expenditure required will depend on the project, but here are some things to consider such as the variables and challenges
Manufacturers of bifacial panels claim a wide range of efficiency gains over a typical panel. In May 2019, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) kicked off a three-year study to evaluate bifacial modules. The study’s early results showed up to a 9% gain in energy production using bifacial panels compared with monofacial panels.
However, it’s still difficult to accurately predict the increased output bifacial panels will provide a particular project. Ground cover, location, and a range of other variables can all impact rear-side production.
Even if the cost of bifacial technology drops to match the cost of monofacial technology, the two have different infrastructure requirements. Although fewer panels can mean fewer inverters, connectors, and other hardware, bifacial panels also require several design considerations that can add cost as well.
For each project, the variables will be different, but Panduit is helping to simplify the calculations by engineering cable management solutions that maximize the bifacial advantage. Until now, widespread adoption of bifacial technology has been slow, so installers have had to adopt cable management solutions designed for monofacial panels.
Panduit and its solar EPC partners have been working to solve several of the challenges presented by bifacial panels. The most basic of these is sagging cables on the underside of a panel. In a traditional installation, this wouldn’t have any impact on production. But with bifacial panels, any obstacles between the panel and the ground can decrease energy production.
One way to keep cables from obstructing bifacial panels is to run them along the tracker axis, but this can create its own set of problems. Cable clips are often secured by drilling holes into the axis, which in addition to compromising structural integrity, adds to the labour required.
Panduit has patented several solutions designed specifically for use with bifacial PV panels. The first of these is a UV-resistant cable clip that secures wires snugly along the panel edge. Panduit’s bifacial solutions include patented cable clips designed to hold cables snugly and securely along panel edges and tracker axes. Our dedicated capital projects team regularly works with installers and EPCs to engineer custom prototypes designed for specific application challenges.
We recently worked with an EPC that was looking for an alternative to zip ties when securing multiple cables along a tracker axis. The clamp we developed both eliminated the need to drill into the axis and drastically reduced installation time. The new design requires just 21 seconds to be installed and secure multiple cables, compared to the 90 seconds required to do the same job with zip ties.
These and all of our other renewable energy products have been tested under harsh outdoor conditions—including high wind, high vibration, intense UV exposure, extreme temperatures, and corrosive atmospheres—so we can recommend the right one for any application or environment. Our combination of engineering and manufacturing expertise means we can cover up to 75 percent of the electrical infrastructure required by a typical PV installation balance of system.
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