Applied Energy, Vol.247, 467-479, 2019
A worldwide cost-based design and optimization of tilted bifacial solar farms
The steady decrease in the levelized cost of solar energy (LCOE) has made it increasingly cost-competitive against fossil fuels. The cost reduction is supported by a combination of material, device, and system innovations:To this end, bifacial solar farms are expected to decrease LCOE further by increasing the energy yield; but given the rapid pace of design/manufacturing innovations, a cost-inclusive optimization of bifacial PV systems at the farm-level (including land costs) has not been reported. In our worldwide study, we use a fundamentally new approach to decouple energy yield from cost considerations by parameterizing the LCOE formula in terms of "land-related cost" and "module-related cost" to show that an interplay of these parameters defines the optimum design of bifacial farms. For ground-mounted solar panels, we observe that the panels must be oriented horizontally and packed densely for locations with high "land-related cost", whereas the panels should be optimally tilted for places with high "module-related cost". For systems with relatively high "module-related costs" and for locations with vertical bar latitude vertical bar > 30 degrees, the bifacial modules must be tilted similar to 10 degrees-45 degrees higher and will reduce LCOE by 2-6% compared to their monofacial counterparts. The results in this paper will guide the deployment of LCOE-minimized ground-mounted tilted bifacial farms around the world.