For some years now, solar industry insiders have been touting the benefits of bifacial PV modules coupled with single-axis trackers. However, this innovative PV system enhancement has been widely implemented in utility scale operations only recently. Being relatively new in the market, solar financiers, developers and EPCs have been waiting for more testing and a larger field data set before adopting bifacial modules with trackers. We recently examined why solar developers and financiers should be taking a closer look into bifacial modules.

A new study in the journal Joule, entitled “Global Techno-Economic Performance of Bifacial and Tracking Photovoltaic Systems, confirms what many solar insiders have been saying. The researchers found that bifacial modules coupled with single-axis tracking are a more cost-effective solar option compared to monofacial crystalline silicon PV modules and fixed-tilt systems. The study was conducted by the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), which is sponsored by the National University of Singapore.

The Study’s Methodology and Findings

The research team analyzed worldwide data from NASA’S Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) to measure total irradiation reaching the ground each day across the globe. Their findings revealed that the increased energy production from the bifacial module and tracking system setup outweighed the slightly higher system cost. This is due to the trackers following the path of the sun, allowing for maximum light being harvested on both sides of the module.

The researchers determined that, on average, the combination of bifacial modules and trackers can produce nearly 35 percent more energy while reducing the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) by an average of 16 percent. While the numbers don’t relate to a specific bifacial module and tracking brand or company, the data highlights the bright future for this innovative technology combination.

"The results are stable, even when accounting for changes in the weather conditions and in the costs from the solar panels and the other components of the photovoltaic system, over a fairly wide range," said the study’s author Carlos Rodríguez-Gallegos, a research fellow at SERIS. "This means that investing in bifacial and tracking systems should be a safe bet for the foreseeable future."

The study also found that bifacial trackers with dual-axis trackers also perform exceptionally well, especially at latitudes closer to the poles.

Although major market transitions take time, the evidence continues to mount in favor of higher energy yields and lower LCOE for bifacial modules bundled with single-axis trackers. As more testing and studies occur, the results should drive greater adoption of these solar options.

Caption: (A) Daily average energy yield for the monofacial fixed-tilt installation. The following plots present the percentage difference between the energy yield (with respect to monofacial fixed-tilt) for (B) bifacial-fixed, (C) monofacial-1T, (D) bifacial-1T, (E) monofacial-2T, and (F) bifacial-2T. In (G), the average energy yield difference for the different systems with respect to the monofacial fixed-tilt reference is shown (the presented values are the average from all the analyzed longitude locations at a particular latitude).

TrinaPro Bundles Modules and Trackers

In Trina Solar’s mission to deliver high power yields with a low LCOE, the company introduced TrinaPro, the next major step forward for solar. TrinaPro’s turn-key approach bundles Tier-1 bifacial PV modules with a tracker and either central or string inverters to optimize utility-scale solar installations. With single-row, dual-row and multi-row tracker options, TrinaPro adds significant flexibility to the project design and implementation for improved ROI.

DNV GL, the leading global quality assurance and risk-management company, recently conducted a technology assessment of the TrinaPro Smart Solar Solution. This assessment confirmed the higher energy gains provided with TrinaPro. 

In addition to increasing power gains and lowering LCOE, the TrinaPro utility solution makes procurement and interconnection easy for developers and EPCs. With the popularity of bifacial modules and trackers expected to continue growing, TrinaPro also guarantees product availability and component interoperability to further reduce project risks.

Editor’s note: Trina Solar has no affiliation with SERIS, Joule or the study’s authors.

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