DOE-Funded Research To Test Viability Of Bifacial PV Modules


Through federal funding, DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company, aims to accelerate the commercial deployment of bifacial PV modules.

DNV GL was recently selected to receive a $200,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office for the research project. The grant was part of a broader, $53 million funding announcement from the DOE in October.

According to DNV GL, bifacial PV modules have the potential to increase energy output by 5%-10% annually. To achieve commercial viability, however, the products need to demonstrate their bankability.

To validate energy models created for bifacial PV modules, DNV GL will commission a large-scale comparative energy yield analysis and create energy simulations in PVsyst software, based on collected field data.

“This study represents the most comprehensive comparative energy yield analysis for bifacial PV modules to date,” says Richard S. Barnes, executive vice president of DNV GL – Energy for North America. “Because the solar industry is projected to grow rapidly, it is necessary to understand how new technologies, like bifacial PV modules, will perform.”

“The aim of the study is to accelerate commercial deployment of bifacial PV modules at scale,” adds Tara Doyle, head of business development for DNV GL’s PV module testing lab. “If proven viable through extensive performance and reliability testing, bifacial PV modules have the potential to become the preferred technology for ground-mounted PV installations around the world.”

The project will entail collection of field data over the course of one year at DNV GL’s outdoor solar test facility in Davis, Calif. It will include bifacial and monofacial 1,500 V  modules provided by LONGi Solar, Astronergy Solar, Hanwha Q CELLS and Trina Solar, tested on single-axis trackers provided by NEXTracker, and two albedo ground types. Data acquisition will be highly granular, using actively calibrated equipment. The collected measurements will be used to generate PAN files and subsequent energy simulations in PVsyst.

“Bifacial delivers proven performance with increased energy yield in PV systems, especially in purpose-designed single-axis trackers,” notes Dan Shugar, NEXTracker’s CEO. “World-class measurement and verification testing is very helpful to validating the technology, and we’re very pleased to be a part of this important project with DNV GL. It is wonderful that this test is happening at the site in Davis, which has the pedigree of one of the largest collaborations of early PV system testing dating back to the mid-80s.”

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