Increasing Solar Energy Yield by Making Double Sided Panels
There are currently many ways of increasing the efficiency of solar panels. Most of these methods however, focus on changing some or all of the fundamental properties of traditional silicon-based solar panels. For instance, there is currently an ongoing research about using organic materials for a solar cell.
But improving efficiency does not always involve using revolutionary ideas and innovative methods. That seems to be the idea that one Israeli company is set out to prove, because they are currently reviving the long lost idea of fabricating double sided solar panels.
Double sided solar panels were among the earliest ideas that attempted to address the issue of solar energy yield efficiency. The idea was perfectly simple, and the principle was very easy to implement, since all you have to do is to “spread” the panel’s light-absorbing properties evenly on both sides. However, practicality issues of this method, and the material cost of making solar panels at that time made the idea difficult to execute, and was eventually disfavored for newer and more practical solutions.
An Israeli startup company named bSolar however, is attempting to rekindle interest in double sided solar panels, by developing their own based on advanced solar panel manufacturing techniques that we have in the 21st century. It has been revealed that the design of the solar panel incorporates the use of a boron back field, replacing the standard aluminum backing of standard panels. Boron has been experimentally known to be better than aluminum when it comes to electron preservation, as well as having the capacity to keep the silicon wafers from breaking even as it constantly contacts the photovoltaic surface.
The choice of using boron was not a perfect choice however, since the newly developed manufacturing techniques for the new backing material could raise the default price of the solar panels. However the company seems to be confident the significant increase in efficiency would still bring the panels at an economically viable level.
Their double sided solar panels are capable of increasing energy generation efficiency by up to 30% by simply absorbing reflected and diffused light that are directed to its back side. Ideally, the higher the elevation, the better, and according to their official website, the efficiency levels could even reach a bonus 50% rate for vertical installations. Take note though that this simply energy generation efficiency and not raw efficiency, as the panels of course still hold the standard 20%+ efficiency of regular silicon-based solar panels.
Of course, since the back side can also absorb sunlight, the placement of the solar panels for a standard home won’t be configured to the standard flat-roof installation, but would instead by elevated by a few degrees from the ground. For outdoor installations such as roofs for outdoor stadiums though, the panels could simply be placed flatly.
One of the most commonly spoken criticisms for these kinds of ideas is that the solar panel itself becomes no longer capable of maximizing solar energy yield from a single beam of sunlight, since it is slightly oriented in another direction (and not directly facing upwards). But what should be seen here is the potential flexibility of the installation process. These double sided solar panels are capable of maintaining desired efficiencies even if the given area is rather small for a proper installation.
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