L R AS Published on Monday 13 September 2021 - n° 373 - Categories:panels

Is it better to buy a single-sided panel or a double-sided panel?

Does increased energy production offset increased costs? Clean Energy Associates,

a U.S. consultancy specializing in photovoltaic services, compared the cost of energy produced between the two product categories

The difficulty is that two-sided panels claim a 6% to 10% increase in output over single-sided panels, but they have a higher dollar-per-watt cost, increased equipment, material and installation costs. So where does the buyer's interest lie?

The answer depends on the location of the project, its size, and the equipment used such as trackers. It is therefore necessary to calculate the contribution of the bifacial to energy production over a period of 25 to 30 years (the LCOE). But also a multitude of factors that modify costs and production must be taken into account.

For an initial assessment, the CEA used PVsyst to model the optimised panel layouts and locations it analysed. Then it calculated the price of all equipment, labour, design and engineering, permits, overheads and margin, and other costs, excluding panels.

It estimated the annual kilowatt-hour production, the selling price of electricity, the investment tax credit, and the operation and maintenance costs. Even the longer lifetime of the two-sided panels (25-30 years), the increased costs of equipment (BoS) and installation were taken into account. The annual degradation of the panels was set at 0.5%.

Secondly, a price can be established below which the bifacial is more attractive than a single-sided panel. This reference price is used to recalculate the price per watt for one or more bifacial panels.

Comparison between the single-sided A-panel and two bifacial panels for a project in Massachusetts and Mexico

Even with the very large differences in production and LCOE due to location, the bifacial C panel provided a superior and comparable value.

Despite the accuracy efforts, the CEA believes that the model can be improved, as it does not yet incorporate the comparison between the increasingly popular large format panels that have recently come to market. They require greater spacing between rows, which can lead to increased cable length and voltage drop.


PV Magazine of 10 September 2021

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