With their innovative design and enhanced efficiency, bifacial solar panels are revolutionizing the solar energy industry. Their ability to harness sunlight from both sides, thus generating up to 30% more power compared to traditional ones, makes them appealing to individuals, businesses, and governments looking to harness the benefits of renewable energy as the world strives for a cleaner and more sustainable energy landscape.
Aside from increased energy production, bifacial solar panels also offer improved performance in hot climates and advanced cost-effectiveness. As such, they can potentially generate faster returns on investment and long-term cost savings while also providing you with a sustainable and cost-effective energy solution for years to come.
Advantages of Bifacial Solar Panels
Bifacial solar panels are double-sided panels that generate solar power from direct sunlight and reflected light. Unlike traditional monofacial solar panels with an opaque back sheet, bifacial solar panels have solar cells on both sides, allowing them to capture light from both the front and the back, letting you experience all these benefits:
With their unique structure, bifacial solar panels can absorb light that bounces off the ground or other surfaces, making them more efficient at capturing and converting sunlight. The increased surface area enables bifacial solar panels to produce up to 30% more power compared to their monofacial counterparts.
Some types of bifacial solar panels appear frameless due to the transparency and lack of metal grid lines, which many find more visually appealing than monofacial ones. Because of their efficiency in energy production, they also typically require less space per watt, allowing homeowners like you to install fewer panels to meet your energy needs.
Since they are covered on both sides by tempered glass and are built thicker to ensure structural integrity, bifacial solar panels are more durable and are expected to have longer lifespans. These features also make them weather-resistant, UV-resistant, and able to withstand high temperatures and strong winds.
Investing in Bifacial Solar Panels
Around a decade ago, the average cost of a solar panel system was around £20,000, and it would take approximately ten years to recoup the initial investment. However, solar panel system prices have dropped by over 60% since then, allowing you to recover your investment within four to five years.
The actual cost of bifacial solar panels, including installation and the number of panels required, depends on how much space you have available and how much energy you need to generate for your home. On average, a residential solar power system typically costs around £2,800 to £13,000, but factors such as the type of panels and system size influence the price.
Additional costs may also arise from various components needed for installation, such as the inverter, which converts the direct current produced by the panel into alternating current for home appliances, as well as metering equipment, housing elements, cables, and wiring. Some homeowners may also opt for a battery backup system, adding to the overall cost.
While it would be best to perform a complete retrofit for the entire house, you can do it gradually over several years if you are not ready to commit fully. At the end of the day, even implementing a few of these energy-saving measures can positively impact your home and lifestyle.
Consider these expenses as an investment because a typical residential unit can save anywhere from $16,000 to $79,000 over the solar panel system's lifetime, which may vary based on the cost of electricity in your area. These savings depend on the number of solar panels installed and your household's electricity consumption and size.
Factors to Consider Before Investing in Bifacial Solar Panels
However, there are a few factors that must be taken into consideration to ensure the efficiency of bifacial solar panels. For one, the initial costs can be higher, as they may cost up to 10% more than monofacial panels due to the manufacturing process. Installation costs can also be more expensive, as bifacial panels are heavier and require specialized equipment to fully capitalize on their benefits.
You also need to have an appropriate location for installation because sunlight reflects off all surfaces to varying extents. As a general rule, the more reflective the surroundings, the greater the energy generation of the bifacial solar panels. Thus, bifacial solar panels are most effective when placed near highly reflective surfaces, such as glass, swimming pools, and sandy, rocky, or snowy areas.
Lastly, bifacial solar panels must be elevated at least four meters from the surface to enable reflected light to reach the back of the panel. As such, they may not offer significant advantages when installed on rooftops where they would be positioned very close to the shingles, but they can be advantageous when used to construct a covering over an outdoor area.
These factors may mean that bifacial solar panels aren’t quite the right fit for you. If you’re looking for someone affordable, easy to install, and that can be moved with the sun (rather than having to figure out the ideal position for a permanent install), check out solar generator systems instead.
Rising Energy Costs Worldwide
In recent years, the cost of living has sharply increased in many parts of the world, and the UK is no exception. Just last October 2022, the annual inflation rate in the country hit a 41-year high of 11.1% before slightly decreasing in the following months. By March 2023, it stood at 10.1%, marking the seventh consecutive month of double-digit inflation.
Energy prices significantly contribute to this upsurge in inflation, with the estimated average domestic energy bill in 2022 reaching £2,294 - a 72% increase compared to the previous year. Unfortunately, these concerns are not expected to go away anytime soon, considering that domestic gas prices rose by 129% in March 2023 versus last year, while domestic electricity prices increased by 67%.
With the skyrocketing energy prices and the surge in demand for electricity from data centers and electric vehicles, the need for solar power has become more apparent - and unlike gas, it cannot be cut off. This is why, in the first months of 2023, the number of UK households opting for solar panel installations soared to its highest level in over seven years, with people turning to renewable energy to protect themselves from rising energy costs.
Data from the industry reveals that over 50,700 households installed solar panels between January and March - which is twice that of the year prior and the highest since late 2015. Together, the solar panels installed in the first quarter generate 265 megawatts of power, which is equivalent to half the output of a typical coal-fired power generation unit.
At present, solar power accounts for 4.4% of the country's electricity generation compared to gas at 35.9% and wind power at 23.3%. While still relatively small, these numbers show that solar power is gaining traction as a significant contributor to the country's energy demand.
What is Solar Power?
In simple terms, solar power is generated by transforming the sun's energy into thermal or electrical energy. This is done by capturing the UV rays and channelling them into a main generator system, such as a solar power station, which then triggers a chemical and physical reaction within a battery, thereby producing electricity.
And because the sun is accessible worldwide, solar power is hailed as a limitless energy source, typically free of pollution and noise. It is thus one of the most reliable sources of renewable energy, though factors like location, time of year, and weather can influence the amount of power generated.
While the initial investment can be quite substantial, solar panels offer several benefits to homeowners, including:
Solar panels ultimately provide cost savings, promote environmentally friendly living, and simplify lifestyles because they enable off-grid living and allow for the sale of surplus electricity, accelerating the return on investment. In addition, installing solar panels can boost your home's resale value, as the money saved from reduced electricity costs and selling excess power back to the grid adds to the property's appeal.
You don't have to worry about high recurring costs because solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25 years or more, and technological advancements have extended their life cycle even further. With proper and regular maintenance, solar panel systems can provide a long-term energy supply that would help you lower your electricity bills.
The UK government has temporarily introduced a zero-rate VAT for energy-saving materials in residential buildings until March 2027, which includes insulation, solar panels, heat pumps, and other eco-friendly installations. If you want to improve your property's energy efficiency, taking advantage of this initiative can help you enjoy significant savings by reducing the overall cost of implementing energy-saving measures in your home.
Aside from the savings and the potential extra income, you can also experience energy independence with solar panel systems that include battery storage. You can use the stored excess energy as needed, reducing or even eliminating your reliance on energy suppliers and their price increases - giving you more control over your energy consumption and costs while enabling you to contribute to a greener and more sustainable future.
Choosing Solar Panels for Your Home
Before you dive in and get your own solar panels, you must first determine the most suitable type for your specific needs. This can be quite challenging initially, considering the diverse range of capabilities, quality, price points, and features available for consumers.
Each type has pros and cons, and you should pick one that best suits your lifestyle and budget. For example, monocrystalline solar panels are often considered the top choice due to their solar efficiency of 20% and above, but they might be the priciest option per watt. Polycrystalline solar panels, the second most popular type, are also made from silicon but with a different manufacturing process, offering lower durability, efficiency, and cost in production and purchase.
While doing your research, remember that your primary objective is to create a system that maximizes solar energy generation, so panel efficiency has consistently been the primary benchmark for success in the solar energy realm. To this effect, the solar industry has launched enhanced bifacial solar panels, which allow sunlight to be captured on both sides of the panel, further increasing its efficiency.