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ANU Scientists Set New Record with Bifacial Solar Cells

Image Credits: ANU, Press Release

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have produced a more efficient type of solar cell, using laser processing and setting a new world record in the process.  The solar cells are dual-sided, meaning both the front and back of the cell generate power.

Principal Investigator Dr Kean Chern Fong said the so-called bifacial solar cells easily beat the performance of single-sided silicon solar cells. The team has developed what he would call a true bifacial solar cell, as it has nearly symmetrical power generation capacity on both surfaces of the device.

When deployed on a conventional solar farm, a bifacial cell absorbs direct incoming light, while also taking advantage of ground reflection, which can contribute up to an additional 30 per cent power generation. Bifacial solar cells are becoming increasingly important in the roll-out of solar farms and are expected to have a market share of over 50 per cent in the next five years.

The team’s work demonstrates the incredible capabilities of this technology. The team used specific laser doping technology to fabricate the cells. Laser-doping uses lasers to locally increase electrical conductivity. It is a low-cost, industry-compatible process for boosting solar cell efficiency.

This allowed the research team to achieve a front conversion efficiency of 24.3 per cent and a rear conversion efficiency of 23.4 per cent, representing a bifacial factor of 96.3 per cent. This performance represents an effective power output of approximately 29 per cent, well exceeding the performance of the best single-sided silicon solar cell.

This is a world record for selectively laser-doped solar cells and among the highest efficiency bifacial solar cells, Dr Ernst said. This work has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP). The results have been independently verified by the CSIRO.

A bifacial solar cell (BSC) is a photovoltaic solar cell that can produce electrical energy when illuminated on both its surfaces, front or rear. Instead, monofacial solar cells only produce electrical energy when photons impinge on their front side. The efficiency of bifacial solar cells, defined as the ratio of incident luminous power to generated electrical power, is measured independently for the front and rear surfaces under one or several suns (1 sun = 1000W/m2). The bifaciality factor (%) is defined as the ratio of rear efficiency in relation to the front efficiency subject to the same irradiance.

The bifacial solar market is proliferating on the global platform witnessing the increasing installations of bifacial modules worldwide. Bifacial solar modules offer several advantages over traditional solar panels, including power production from both sides, increasing total energy generation. Bifacial modules can generate more power in a smaller array footprint, reducing balance of system (BOS) costs.

Besides, these modules are extremely durable, with UV resistance applied on both sides. Frameless bifacial modules are considered beneficial for reducing potential-induced degradation (PID) concerns. Many research institutes are increasingly conducting studies to improve functionalities of bifacial solar modules that can decrease the Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE).

Another report noted that the Bifacial Solar Panel/Bifacial Solar Module Market is expected to grow from $2.5 billion in 2019 at a CAGR of 16.2% during the forecast period 2020-2025.

Growing support from governments of several countries in the form of subsidies, incentives, investments and so on are likely to push the market. In addition, several advantages of Bifacial Solar Panel over monofacial and increased investments by companies for innovation in this solar panel is also expected to drive the market.

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