Category: Finance and Asset Management
Utility-scale externally-financed bifacial PV projects have come to the front and center of the solar industry. In this presentation, UL outlines the key considerations for utility-scale bifacial projects from an external financing perspective.
Developers and financiers require technology-specific guidance for how to approach bifacial project bankability. During Independent Engineering review, system design, technology reviews, energy production estimates, and system degradation require bifacial-specific analyses. Together, technical considerations and performance (energy-resource) considerations provides a comprehensive look at the most important factors for financing utility-scale bifacial projects.
For energy production estimates, UL outlines the status of current energy modeling software packages, including their strengths and limitations for bifacial energy modeling. UL also outlines the solar resource inputs needed to minimize irradiance uncertainty The presentation provides best practices for data selection of these parameters to minimize uncertainty. The presentation provides guidance on how bifacial project design should differ from monofacial projects to maximize energy and minimize costs. This, combined with an assessment of bifacial-specific loss factors (mismatch, back-side soiling and shading, etc.) is necessary to achieve a bankable bifacial production estimate. The results of the presentation are informed by experience collecting on-site bifacial performance data from three test arrays installed in a snowy environment, a desert environment, and a warm deciduous environment (Michigan, Nevada, and Texas).
The technology used in bifacial modules is, for the most part, similar to the technology used in monofacial modules. Due to material and manufacturing similarities, UL conducts due diligence reviews for bifacial technologies as an augmentation of the established approaches for monofacial PV projects. The balance of system review should indicate appropriate adjustments to maximize the energy gain from the back side of the modules. This often includes an appropriate configuration of the mounting and/or tracking structures to minimize shading, provide for wire management away from module back side, and to maximize reflected solar insolation on the module back side. Operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures should also be modified to allow for maximum return on the bifacial investment. O&M procedures may therefore include enhanced vegetation management and optimized cleaning of the back side of the modules to minimize accumulations of dust and debris and vegetation influence on the back-side of the modules.
Together, technical considerations and performance (energy-resource) considerations provides a comprehensive look at the most important factors for financing utility-scale bifacial projects.
Peter Johnson– Senior Project Engineer, Underwriters Laboratories (AWS Truepower)