Double-sided (otherwise known as bifacial) solar cells are capable of generating electricity from sunlight received on their front size, but also from leftover sunlight that diffused and/or reflected by using the back side (second side) of the cell.
Solar panels of this type have been under development for decades, but they have generally been too expensive to compete with conventional solar panels. BSolar, however, recently announced that it has developed double-sided solar panels that produce 50% more power than conventional panels in vertical installations. It says that they are also more affordable than traditional double-sided panels.
According to the company, these monocrystalline panels”provide 10-30% higher energy per KWp installed in standard applications, and up to 50% in vertical installations, resulting in an equivalent cell efficiency of 21%-24% in standard applications and a total module power of 280-325 Watts for 60-cell modules.
According to GigaOM, the secret to these double-sided solar panels is the use of boron instead of aluminium. According to TreeHugger, BSolar has been able to bring the cost of these double-sided solar cells down to a competitive level, because their cells generate more electricity per square metre.
BSolar has already been called upon to provide 730 kW of panels for an installation in Japan. Several solar cell manufacturers are going to use BSolar cells in their panels, as well.
For more of the basics of how solar panels work, you may want to check out Glenn’s primer on that (linked above).
Photo Credit: Bsolar