Contributed by Rogér Baylon, Clean Energy Associates
Despite last year’s reinstatement of US tariffs on bifacial modules, solar developers are often considering bifacial modules for their utility-scale solar projects. But the promise of bifacials’ higher energy yield of 6% to 10% – or more – compared to traditional monofacial PERC technology comes at a higher dollar-per-watt module cost, as well as increased expenses for balance of system (BOS) and installation.
To truly understand whether selecting a bifacial module will bring more revenue over time, clients often ask CEA to make an apples-to-apples, levelized cost of energy (LCOE) comparison that takes into account project design, location, insolation, BOS, trackers, and many other factors.
CEA’s approach to calculating the LCOE of different kinds of technologies and pricing is designed to account for a range of variables affecting system performance while providing a clear picture of the increased module value of bifacial systems. This same LCOE methodology can be used for comparing bifacial modules not only to mono PERC but also to the new crop of larger-format modules. However, this case study will focus on comparing bifacials to mono PERC modules.
Consider Which PV Technology is Best for You
Before calculating LCOE, the first step is to identify two to three solar module products that have already been assessed for quality, reliability, and bankability. This can be done by identifying some of the most widely used panels with a proven record of production in existing projects.
Second, consider the goal. For example, some clients may be making a large purchase of bifacial panels for different locations. On an LCOE basis, bifacials may be perfect for Massachusetts, where the reflexivity of white snow cover will take advantage of bifacials’ back side and generate more kilowatt-hours (kWh). However, bifacials may not be cost-effective for a similarly sized project in Hawaii, where