Oman Using Bifacial Solar Panels In Giant 500 MW Solar Farm

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Oman may not be the first country you think of when you think of solar power giants, but just like everywhere else in the world, solar simply makes sense — and the country certainly has a lot of solar resources. Oman is building a giant 500 megawatt (MW) solar farm, but it’s not just any 500 MW solar behemoth.

Less than a decade ago, a 500 MW solar power plant would have been the largest in the world, and there’s close to 0% chance it would have used bifacial solar panels, but things change. N-type TOPCon (Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact) high-efficiency bifacial solar modules are the tech that has been ordered for this plant, and the modules are now being delivered. China’s Jolywood (Suzhou) Sunwatt has shipped its TOPCon bifacial solar panels to ACWA Power’s Oman Ibri II project.

Image courtesy Jolywood

Thanks to a field trip to New Mexico in 2018, we dove into bifacial solar modules more at that time. Put simply, “A bifacial solar panel is essentially a solar panel that can collect energy from the front side and the rear side (a normal monofacial panel only collects energy from one side).” Naturally, collecting more energy is a bonus. However, a bifacial solar cell or solar module also costs more than a normal one. Increasingly, though, the improved energy efficiency seems to pay off, as we’ve see a lot more projects using these in the past year than we did in 2015 and 2016 when Silfab Solar and LG Electronics were releasing their products. Last year, Lightsource BP and Array Technologies implemented a 200 MW solar project with bifacial solar modules and solar tracking technology.

Regarding the Oman project technology, “Jolywood’s bifacial components offer superior performance and more excellent energy absorption through high-efficiency rear-surface passivation,” Jolywood claims.

“Simultaneously, the components are designed to withstand frequent dust storms in the area. The symmetrical structure, stability and flexibility of the design reduce the risk of cracks and damage, and bifacial technology has a larger surface area for a broader range of applications. The improved weak illumination response also allows for better power generation under low light conditions.”

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“Jolywood is supplying 458MW of nTOPCon bifacial modules to the project, its largest single order for this technology, after supplying a 125MW batch to an Oman Marubeni project in 2019,” pv tech notes.

“PV manufacturer Jolywood had previously achieved a conversion efficiency of 23.2% at the end of 2019. A new 0.3% higher efficiency cell was achieved with an optimised homogeneous boron emitter, featuring Al2O3/SiNx as passivation films and a metallisation process for better contact, according to the company. As a production-ready process, Jolywood used n-type 158.75mm x 158.75 (G1) silicon wafers to achieve the recent record conversion efficiency.”

When I first edited articles about bifacial solar panels, I’m sure I thought something along the lines of, “Well, that sounds like a good idea — collecting sunlight for energy production from the bottom of the panel makes sense. But is it commercially competitive? Does the extra energy production outweigh the cost? It must not, because it seems like no one uses these.” However, the theory was sound, and the technology has matured. Expect to see more news of bifacial solar power plants soon.

It appears that Europe’s biggest N-bifacial solar power plant, in Zonnepark Rilland in the Netherlands, has only 11.75 MW of power capacity, and the largest in Eastern Europe has only 4 MW, but I have a feeling we’re just getting started.


Image courtesy Jolywood

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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