Our work

Higher yield and better integration in landscape with bifacial solar panels

Large-scale rollout of solar energy has a big impact on our living environment. Without efficient and multifunctional land use this will deteriorate the value of nature or compete with agriculture and hence decrease social acceptance.The energy yield of bifacial solar panels is less dependent on position and orientation and thus offers more options for multifunctional use or a higher yield per hectare.

The Netherlands is a densely populated country where free space is in short supply. To achieve our climate objectives, several hundreds of square kilometres of solar PV farms will need to be realised. The large-scale rollout of solar energy will have a major impact on our living environment.  Without multifunctional land use this could result in a deterioration of the quality of the landscape and environment and a decrease in local support for solar farms, i.e. "not in my backyard".

Bifacial module Sunfloat

Bifacial solar panels are able to catch light on both sides and convert this into electricity. ECN part of TNO is involved in developments that cover the entire value chain of bifacial panels from cell to application. ECN part of TNO designs special bifacial solar panels, for example for application in noise barriers. Moreover, we are actively involved in drawing up measuring protocols for bifacial panels.

Bifacial model

Higher yield

Bifacial panels make better use of both diffuse light from the sky and clouds as well as reflected light from the underground and direct environment. Not only does this increase the yield per panel, it also offers higher degrees of freedom (distance, angle) for the design of your solar system or solar PV farm. ECN part of TNO has a bifacial energy yield model, called BIGEYE that calculates the (higher) yield per hectare or per module compared to conventional panels. This model helps to optimise bifacial systems towards the highest energy yield, the lowest generation cost or to realise better alignment of the daily generation profile to the energy demand profile.

Examples of multifunctional use include noise barriers or vertical installation combined with agriculture. Bifacial solar panels are also used in floating solar farms. ECN part of TNO collaborates with Dutch companies to monitor and predict the reliability and energy yield of bifacial panels that are oriented to the south as well as east-west.

Our activities include:

  • Modeling of energy yield for project developers.
  • Module design.
  • Assistance in developing and testing new applications.
  • Characterisation of panels.
  • Reliability and lifetime testing.

Dr Bas van Aken

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