University of Richmond Test Bed To Use Bisun Solar Panels

SolarWorld’s U.S. manufacturing hub has produced its first bifacial Bisun solar panels for installation as part of a 205-kilowatt system at the University of Richmond, Virginia. The system will be the first commercial installation in the Americas to employ Bonn, Germany-based SolarWorld’s latest technology, which can generate up to 25 percent more energy, compared with standard mono-facial modules of the same nominal wattages.

University of Richmond Bisun Solar Panels
A worker of SolarWorld Americas Inc. in Hillsboro, OR inspects a laminate on its way to becoming a bifacial Bisun solar panel.

Installed atop the university’s Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, the new system will compare performance of standard modules using advanced p-type mono-PERC (passivated emitter rear contact) cell architecture and Bisun modules using the same cell architecture. Bisun technology generates electricity both from direct exposure to solar radiation on the front side as well as reflected sunlight on the backside.

In addition, both types of modules will be installed on top of both a gravel roof and a roof of vinyl-like white material TPO (thermoplastic olefin) to produce further performance data comparisons. Actual power generation from bifacial modules depends on both the distance they are installed from a surface beneath them as well as the composition and therefore reflectivity of that surface.

SolarWorld will co-own the array with Secure Futures, based in Staunton, VA, which is developing the project. Under the first power purchase agreement within the service territory of utility Dominion Power Virginia, the University of Richmond will purchase power generated by the array. Installation is expected to conclude this spring.

“Thanks to the university, we will provide a system that produces clean power while also demonstrating the in-field capabilities of technological innovation,” said Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld. “Aside from making the university greener, this installation will provide a strong set of performance data in a real-world application. Bifacial PERC modules represent a significant technological advancement in photovoltaics, and SolarWorld is once again leading the deployment of cutting-edge solar technologies.”