A colleague here in New Zealand recently introduced me to a new solar innovation: bifacial solar panels. I did a little research, and it turns out these bifacial panels are pretty neat. By utilizing reflective light from roofing, concrete, or snow alongside direct sunlight, they can generate solar power from both the rear and front sides of solar cells. That's right! A solar cell that collects light from both sides is available and making noise in the solar industry.
According to my research, these solar panels boost energy output by 10-30%, and work best on highly reflective surfaces. Bifacial panels can be mounted on awnings, canopies, bus shelters and EV charging stations, but also work well in scenarios where vertically placed panels are the best option, as they are capable of collecting amounts equal to, or more than traditional angled panels. Research from Prism Solar Technologies suggests white surfaces have a reflective rate of 80% to 90%, compared to dark gray or gravel surfaces. I was also interested to read that during product testing crushed seashells were purposefully placed below ground-mounted solar panels to successfully boost the output.
In terms of pricing, there are mixed reviews on the cost of bifacial panels. On civicsolar.com, the Sunpreme Maxima 300W, frameless bifacial panels are listed for $412, while SolarWorld Pro, Mono 310W panels are listed $331 (regular panels), and LG NeON 305W panels for $451 (regular panels). As a whole, the bifacial panels are on the higher end of the scale, but extremely competitive considering their energy boosting benefits!
Below are a few companies that produce bifacial solar panels;
This is a really good example of how bifacial solar panels work - excuse the not so modern music - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIz8k5iGQdY