Bifacial solar is the next big thing. The sinking cost and relatively easy supply propelled the new technology to the forefront of the solar industry.
Bifacial solar modules, as its name suggests, can generate power from both the front and the back sides of the modules, which boosts the power generation. Not only the power generation is more favorable, but its cost of production is also quite competitive with that of the traditional monofacial modules. “Our report finds that the production cost differential between bifacial mono PERC and monofacial mono PERC modules is now as low as half a cent,” Sun Xiaojing, the senior research analyst from Wood Mackenzie explained.
WoodMac also indicated that the majority of advanced solar cells available in the market are essentially bifacial. Therefore it is not difficult for the manufacturers to retool their production facilities for the monofacial modules to suit the purpose of bifacial modules.
The future landscape of the bifacial market
According to Wood Mackenzie, the global installed capacity of bifacial modules have surged from 97MW in 2016 to 2.6GW in 2018. The consultancy estimated that the global market for bifacial solar will reach 5.2 GW by 2019. Bifacial technology was only getting started. The global market, by estimation, will reach 21GW by 2024, which is a whopping tenfold increase in only 5 years’ time. Regarding the market share of bifacial modules in 2024, it is estimated that they will make up 17.2% of the total installed capacity, which is four times higher than their current share in 2019.
When the bifacial market is examined by regions, China is typically the leading market for bifacial modules. The subsidies and incentives of China’s Top Runner program made the budding technology an attractive and viable option. However, WoodMac estimates that the growth will inevitably be lowered to a slower but steady rate of 20% per year, as the Chinese government intends to wean the industry off the subsidy.
Having been generally weighed down by the numerous tariffs imposed by the government and the relatively modest domestic supply, the US bifacial solar market is now looking up. Reaping the benefits of the new tariff exemption introduced by U.S. Trade Representative last June, explained WoodMac, bifacial solar modules now have an upper hand in terms of the price against other modules in the US market, due to their exclusion from the tariff.
WoodMac expects that the Middle East is also set to experience remarkable growth. Given that the vast desert wilderness lies in the region, such terrain is ideal for the bifacial market to thrive. UAE has already announced that it is building a bifacial module project of 320 MW. Oman is expected to launch a bifacial module project of 600 MW. Saudi Arabia is likely to follow suit, seeing how fast the country is developing its solar industry.
Having a similar geographical advantage as the Middle East, WoodMac is confident that Australia can be a good host to bifacial solar. The extremely beneficial tariffs introduced by the local government also made Australia a nurturing space for its overall solar industry.
The solar industry is typically driven by state-owned enterprises in Latin American countries, such as Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. Therefore the popularization of bifacial technology is likely to follow the same path.
Northern European countries have a healthy appetite for the bifacial solar modules due to their high latitudes, such as the U.K. and Denmark. Their southern neighbors, however, have yet to show the same level of enthusiasm for this budding technology. However, their policy and market conditions make them favorable to the bifacial solar.
Industry undertakings to attract more investors
All signs point to the bifacial solar module being on the rise in the solar industry. However, this up-and-coming technology is not without its faults. Much like any other new technology, bifacial solar has a lot of potential without much concrete data to back the claims up. There are also few guidelines about bifacial solar in the industry. All these factors make any project involving the technology a risky business. And there is nothing scarier for investors to navigate these unchartered waters, who are known to be risk-averse.
To improve bifacial technology’s attractiveness to the investors, the industry has set out to self-regulate by developing international standards, testing, and measurements, testing instruments, certifications. WoodMac also emphasizes that noteworthy effort has been made to collect more field data and developing/ improving the bifacial-ready simulation software.
- WoodMac: Bifacial module capacity will exceed 21 GW by 2024
- Bifacial Solar Market Set to Grow Tenfold by 2024
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