With bifacial modules making their way into the mainstream, tracker manufacturers and energy companies are operating test facilities around the world. To drive the LCOE as low as possible, tracker manufacturers now also care about what is happening underneath the modules, and not just above.

As the power comes from light reflected from the ground, increasing that reflectivity has been mooted by many stakeholders. This is not without complication, however, and the quest for optimization goes into the next round.A new PV test facility has been installed at one of the earth’s sunniest locations, and it is adopting an approach that may shed additional light on the promising combination of bifacial modules with single-axis tracking.

The 120 kWp Bifacial Test and Innovation Center in Chile’s Atacama Desert was commissioned in May 2020. Engineers from Engie Laborelec are now looking to find the sweet spot between various bifacial module designs, trackers, smart power electronics and cleaning robots to deliver the lowest PV LCOE in Latin America and beyond.

“We are taking a holistic or system approach,” explains Thore Müller, who heads bifacial PV R&D and solar services for Engie Laborelec Latin America. “To get rid of as many assumptions and sources of error as possible we are comparing different combinations of trackers and bifacial panels side-by-side, without relying on simulations as a reference.”