Dan Shugar

Shug Speaks

20 Years of Enthusiasm: Bifacial Testing and Validation

January 28, 2019

I’ve been talking about bifacial for over twenty years. Some may even call it a love affair, if you will, which began with the proving out of the technology concept a decade ago in the landmark Nellis AFB project and continues to this day. In 2007, 14 MW Nellis Air Force Base PV Plant in Las Vegas, Nevada was the largest solar power plant in the country.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Air Force. Nellis Air Force Base Photovoltaic Plant. Las Vegas, Nevada.

This month, our client Invenergy LLC announced the successful financing of a landmark 224 MWp project, one of the first >100 MW bifacial projects to be announced in the United States. The Southern Oak Solar Project, located in Georgia, is financed by CoBank, and the clean energy generated will be sold under a power purchase agreement (PPA) to Georgia Power until 2049. Construction began in September 2018 with RES, a global EPC, and will commence commercial operation this year. This project features high-efficiency bifacial modules, used in tandem with NEXTracker’s state-of-the-art TrueCapture™ control system, a proven system that enables highly energy generation most PV systems to generate more energy. 

Bifacial testing is multiplying, which is a very good thing. Independent engineers and investors are gaining confidence that the technology performs. Thought leaders like PV Magazine’s Charles W. Thurston are sharing the widespread goal of the industry at large to gather bankable data to validate what we know: bifacial, especially when paired with advanced trackers and software, can significantly enhance power production and lower overall levelized cost of energy (LCOE) compared to standard monofacial modules.

As an innovative technology provider, NEXTracker has also been actively conducting testing of bifacial modules for four years in our Center for Solar Excellence adjacent to our Fremont headquarters. We are excited to be working with PVEL, NREL, and other notable third-party evaluators on these tests.

Back in June, we also published and spoke at length about best practices for bifacial and adaptive tracking on a Greentech Media webinar, “Maximizing Performance on Single Axis Trackers”, The webinar provides an opportunity for developers, financiers and solar industry colleagues to hear directly from me and my colleagues Venkata Abbaraju and Greg Beardsworth. View it on-demand here.

In just the United States, NEXTracker is currently fulfilling over 750 MW in bifacial projects and we’re appreciative to be working with innovators like Invenergy, LONGi Solar and RES that are pushing the envelope of PV yield gain.

Join the bifacial discussion on my LinkedIn post here.
See my post on Southern Oak Solar Project here.

Shug