Marching towards a solar-lit future

As demand to this most sustainable power alternative rises, researchers suggest using double-sided panels

By   |  Namrata Srivastava  |  Published: 9th Apr 2021  10:00 pmUpdated: 9th Apr 2021  8:05 pm

World׳s energy demand is growing fast because of population explosion and technological advancements. One of the most sustainable power alternatives that is available easily today is solar energy. With its rising demand, it is assumed by many that in the coming years, technology improvements will ensure that solar becomes even cheaper.

While solar panels have made it to several rooftops, researchers are now advocating for the use of double-sided solar modules. Recently, in a new study published in the journal Joule, Rodríguez-Gallegos and his team suggest using doubled-side photovoltaic panels that can also track the sun, to boost their efficiency even further. They found that double-sided panels – sometimes called bifacial modules – would produce 35 per cent more energy when combined with single-axis trackers, and 40 per cent more in combination with dual-axis trackers.

Explaining the process, S Karthikeyan, Principal Counsellor, Confederation of Indian Industry, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), says, “The advantage of using two-sided solar panels is that they can also absorb energy that is reflected by the ground onto their rear side. At the CII building, after the installation of bifacial modules we were not only able to meet 100 per cent of our energy requirement, but were able to exceed it.”

At present, solar panels around the world are predominantly installed with a fixed orientation and capture light only from one side. This means they are dependent on the sun’s position in the sky and are only able to convert about 22 per cent of the light they absorb into energy.

Experts share that bifacial modules can not only be used in upcoming commercial or residential projects, but also the older societies. “This is actually a great way to generate energy for buildings that do not have much space to install the solar panels. Their continuous use will eventually have significant economic and energy advantages for the occupants,” shares Karthikeyan, adding, “We spend most of our time at home — the ongoing pandemic has even increased that time. These changes can help enhance the occupants’ health and comfort.”

Informing that these can be a little more expensive that the normal panels, Karthikeyan says, “Since it will generate more energy, this technology will not only pay for itself in future, but will also ensure a cleaner environment to live in.”

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