SolarWorld’s Mono-PERC Bifacial Modules Are Here

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Originally published on the ECOreport

These modules allegedly generate up to 25% more energy than standard mono-facial modules of the same nominal wattages. Ben Santarris, head of corporate communications for SolarWorld Americas, said he is not aware of anything like this product on the market. (He checked before phoning me back to confirm that. ) They have been tried out in a small test field in Germany and a commercial installation in Japan. Now SolarWorld’s Mono-PERC bifacial modules are here.


This morning, SolarWorld announced that the first North American installation will be as part of a 205-kilowatt system at the University of Richmond, Virginia. This will be the first American commercial system using bifacial solar panels.

The modules were manufactured in less than day. They came off SolarWorld’s assembly line, in Hillsboro, Oregon, February 18, 2016.


In its news release, SolarWorld says:

Set atop the university’s Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, the new system will compare performance of standard modules using advanced p-type mono-PERC (passivated emitter rear contact) cell architecture and Bisun modules using the same cell architecture. Bisun technology generates electricity both from direct exposure to solar radiation on the front side as well as reflected sunlight on the backside.

In addition, both types of modules will be installed on top of both a gravel roof and a roof of vinyl-like white material TPO (thermoplastic olefin) to produce further performance data comparisons. Actual power generation from bifacial modules depends on both the distance they are installed from a surface beneath them as well as the composition and therefore reflectivity of that surface.

SolarWorld will co-own the array with Secure Futures, based in Staunton, Va., which is developing the project. Under the first power purchase agreement within the service territory of utility Dominion Power Virginia, the University of Richmond will purchase power generated by the array. Installation is expected to conclude this spring.

“Thanks to the university, we will provide a system that produces clean power while also demonstrating the in-field capabilities of technological innovation,” said Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld. “Aside from making the university greener, this installation will provide a strong set of performance data in a real-world application. Bifacial PERC modules represent a significant technological advancement in photovoltaics, and SolarWorld is once again leading the deployment of cutting-edge solar technologies. We look forward to showing customers the finished system.”

Photo Credit: New bifacial modules on the assembly line Thursday 2/18/16. © 2016 SolarWorld /; SolarWorld’s Plant in Hillsboro, Oregon – Courtesy SolarWorld’s Media Kit

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales

11 thoughts on “SolarWorld’s Mono-PERC Bifacial Modules Are Here

  • The claim for “up to 25% better” annual output – presumably from superior off-axis light capture – is snake oil, as there is no standard procedure for evaluating this. IIRC SunPower make similar if less extravagant claims. We badly need an objective performance standard covering this.

    • I agree, if there is anything to this claim it needs to be explained. Presumably nominal output is the standard 1sun direct incidence with cells at 25C. So
      the only way to do better/worse over a day/year is to have less thermal degradation (i.e. don’t lose as much when its hot), or do better than others at low angles on incidence. If the back layer is reflective then rays reflected from underneath the panels wouldn’t be able to penetrate, so something sounds fishy with that claim (unless it isn’t and its the reflectance is from underneath).

      Counting of light reflected from under the panels would lead to balancing issues unless extraordinary care was taken so that all cells are equally lit by reflected light.

      • That’s exactly what it is. The module receives light from the top and bottom. This is why they are testing different surfaces and have to be rather vague about the energy gain. Everything depends on the details of the particular installation.

  • “Snow bounce” is a real thing, the solar thermal collectors which help heat my cabin see a performance improvement once the ground is snow-covered.

    Interesting to see the concept applied to PV.

  • Bifacial cells have been around for quite a while.

  • Checked on PV Tech. Some amazing results, and puzzling the pros. ”
    At first glance, the news that a bifacial system is showing an average 120% higher specific energy yield
    (kWh/kWp) averaged over one month seems to be puzzling, in particular
    considering the fact that no days with snow coverage are included in
    this analysis. In this blog we will provide some information that go
    beyond the headline and go deeper into the technical details in order to
    give explanations for some of the possible reasons for the unexpectedly
    high energy yield observed during the month of December 2015 on a
    bifacial PV system installed on an island on the lake of Constance
    (Reichenau Island, Germany).” (From PV TECH)

    • Unfortunately, they didn’t really go beyond the headline and explore the reasons for the abnormally high benefits to the bifacial system. 120% is way too good to be true, and I think that data point is meaningless. They mentioned it was a foggy time of the year and the installations were a couple km apart on an island. Seems like a couple km could make a huge difference in foggy conditions when you are next to water in the winter.

      • Yes, they were “puzzled”. They are now doing a much more precise monitoring in 15 minute increments. The arrays seem to be on the same property…a 7.5 on the roof and 4 kw open carport style. Plenty of exposure for the underside. Fog was considered as a reflector to the underside.

        • That’s something I was very confused about. They showed a picture with the two installations on the same property, but then they said “As a reference plant, we selected a monofacial roof-top PV system located at a distance of a few kilometers, also facing south. ” Very confusing.

  • Sanyo provides fairly detailed assumptions for their bifacial panel performance. In Sanyo’s case, the added cost and installation requirements did not justify selecting them unless you were looking for a cool aesthetic effect on porches, canopies, carports etc.

  • Yes, for bifacial panels we should see results on the gain coming from rear reflaction but from real PV plants out in the field. 25% gain is based on simulations. Anyway the first solar cell was bifacial, and bifaciality is a logical trend for conventional PV

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