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Pioneering Solar Technology for Increased Efficiency and Agrivoltaic Solutions

by Anna

Traditional solar installations primarily use flat, horizontal panels to capture sunlight during a specific window of time. However, engineers are pushing the boundaries of solar technology with innovations such as bifacial vertical solar panels. These panels offer advantages in population-dense areas and agricultural settings, capturing sunlight for an extended duration by employing dual panels. This article explores the benefits of bifacial vertical panels, opportunities for increased energy yield, and their potential integration with agrivoltaic projects.

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Advantages of Bifacial Vertical Solar Panels:

Continuous Energy Capture: Unlike horizontal panels with a single performance peak, vertical panels, standing at 90 degrees, maximize energy capture throughout the day. This continuous energy capture reduces the need for extensive energy storage.

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Increased Energy Yield: Studies show that vertical panels can offer up to 11% more energy than their horizontal counterparts. When paired with tracking capabilities and a slightly angled panel, the energy yield can increase significantly, reaching up to 27%.

Reduced Storage Burden: The continuous energy capture of vertical panels reduces the burden on energy storage systems, offering a more sustainable and efficient solution.

Challenges and Cost Considerations:

Installation Costs: While ground-mounted vertical panels can be more expensive to install, especially in commercial settings, the long-term advantages of increased energy yield may outweigh the upfront costs.

Material and Manufacturing Costs: Bifacial vertical panels can be more expensive due to materials and wafer pricing, considering the doubled surface area. However, the potential long-term energy yield increases may justify these costs, especially at the commercial scale.

Meeting the Growing Demand for Solar Energy:

Increasing Solar Power Demand: The demand for solar power is on the rise, driven by electrification and decarbonization efforts. Solar installations have witnessed significant growth over the years.

Space Limitations: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that accommodating solar growth up to 2035 may require approximately 5.7 million acres of land. With ideal solar conditions aligning with those needed for agriculture, competition for suitable sites may arise.

Agrivoltaic Projects with Bifacial Vertical Solar Panels:

Next2Sun’s Innovative Projects: Next2Sun, a German startup, pioneers the integration of vertical solar panels with agriculture. Their projects combine farming for silage and hay with vertical solar panels, showcasing the potential for agrivoltaic solutions.

Benefits for Agriculture: Bifacial vertical panels can benefit crops like potatoes, hay, and low-growing plants by capturing sunlight from more extreme angles during morning and early evening hours. They may also protect crops from excessive heat.

Future Prospects:

Blending Solar and Agricultural Sectors: Bifacial vertical solar panels have the potential to facilitate the integration of solar and agricultural activities, providing novel solutions for land use.

Upcoming Projects: Next2Sun plans to install vertical panels on a farm in Vermont in 2024. The choice of low-growing crops aligns with the suitability of vertical panels for specific agricultural conditions.

Conclusion:

Bifacial vertical solar panels represent a promising innovation in solar technology, offering increased energy capture and the potential for integration with agrivoltaic projects. As the solar industry continues to expand, these panels could provide efficient solutions for both energy generation and sustainable agriculture, contributing to a more environmentally friendly future.

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