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Funding Opportunity: SuNLaMP
SunShot Subprogram: Photovoltaics
Location: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
Amount Awarded: $3,000,000

Bifacial PV modules absorb sunlight and produce electricity from both the front and back sides of the module and can take advantage of light reflected from a surface (albedo). Analysis and field data indicate that this technology has the potential to increase system outputs by 10%-20%. Because current bifacial PV technology has complex light collecting dynamics, its performance advantages have not been fully exploited and no commonly-available tools allow it to be considered for major PV projects beyond current niche applications. The project will provide the data, standard test methods, and validated models to allow developers to fairly evaluate the potential benefits bifacial PV technologies for specific projects.

APPROACH

This project will design and build a bifacial test bed that is capable of controlling important performance parameters, then develop and validate ray-tracing models of back side irradiance. In its final stages, researchers will implement bifacial module performance models in widely accessible modeling packages and draft a standard for bifacial performance ratings.

INNOVATION

Accurate and validated models developed in this project will allow developers to fairly evaluate the potential benefits bifacial PV technologies for specific projects; the project will increase the knowledge about bifacial performance characteristics and provide unbiased, third-party data.. If the benefits of bifacial modules stand, this work will lead to a growing market of this technology as investors take advantage of the increases in system yields with minimal increase in costs.