Soltec: the present and future of PV bifacial technology

Although it has been proven that bifacial modules harvest more energy compared to their conventional monofacial counterparts, this gain can depend on variables, which include among others, the albedo, the height and the gap between modules. In the case of the SF7 Bifacial tracker from Soltec, the percentage gained can range from single digit figures to almost 16% in high albedo conditions (55.6%).

Soltec was one of the first solar tracking companies to consolidate as experts in bifacial technology. In 2015, Soltec manufactured the first PV tracker specifically designed for the installation of bifacial panels in a power plant. This installation took place at the La Silla Astronomical Observatory in Chile. This 1.72 MWp PV plant used to be for experimental purposes and provided the basis for bifacial tracking technology. As a result, La Silla turned into an exceptional project through which Soltec was able to start studying bifacial tracking.

A few years later, in 2018, Soltec inaugurated the world’s first research centre specialising in bifacial solar tracking: the Bifacial Tracking Evaluation Center (BiTEC), located in Livermore, California (US). Its main purpose is to the assess the influence of installation parameters, such as the height of the assembly, shadows and the albedo on the efficiency of bifacial trackers, compared with the efficiency of fixed, monofacial structures.

The PV sector has undergone a marked trend in the installation of bifacial solar trackers. The SF7 tracker from Soltec is one of the star products for utility-scale solar plants that have opted for this type of technology as, under the right circumstances, they can harvest up to 15.7% more bifacial gain in high albedo conditions (55.6%) all year round.

The BiTEC research centre also studies the bifacial gain of the PV modules installed in the two most-widely used configurations in today’s solar tracker market:

• 1-in-Portrait: 1P
• 2-in-Portrait: 2P

According to studies undertaken by BiTEC over the period of one year, Soltec has confirmed that the SF7 Bifacial in 2P configuration can obtain 2.1% more bifacial gain than trackers in 1P configuration.

To date, Soltec commercialises its SF7 Bifacial tracker worldwide. This tracker has been installed in major projects of over 300 MW in Brazil, 200 MW in Chile and in some plants in the United States. The Spanish company has supplied over 300,000 trackers to projects around the globe, positioning itself as the third supplier of solar trackers worldwide. It is also the leading company in the Brazilian market.

Soltec’s R&D department has been working since 2004 to consolidate its position in the PV market and to continue developing the highest level of tracking technology through innovative designs that can adjust to any type of ground. As such, the company is able to customise the features of its SF7 tracker and the SF7 Bifacial to every project in which it takes part.