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Two sides to the same panel: Lightsource’s bifacial technology

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Bifacial (literally ‘two faced’) solar panel technology has become a hot topic across our sector in recent years due to its potential to out-perform mono-facials.  In 2019, 3% of all solar modules sold were bifacial, and this figure is predicted to climb to 10-15% this year, as we see more projects getting the green light globally.

More powerful from every angle

The key strength of bifacial solar panels is in the name – by capturing sunlight on both faces of the panel, the efficiency of energy transfer is increased by around 14%, producing more energy from the same amount of space.

In regions like Australia and the USA, where cost of labour is very expensive, this uplift in yield and increased efficiency has significant benefits to the internal rate of if return (IRR)  of projects, creating more financially viable opportunities for solar.

Case Study: Wellington Solar Farm, NSW, Australia 

We are currently building one of the first (and largest) projects in Australia to deploy bifacial panels at scale. Wellington Solar Farm is a 200MW utility scale solar plant located near Wellington, NSW, and when completed will feature:

  • 500,714 Canadian Solar Bi-HiKu panels
  • 435,000MWh of clean, renewable electricity per year – enough to power 72,500 homes
  • 350,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions displaced- equivalent to taking 121,580 cars off the roads.

Durable, with a longer lifetime

According to a study by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, there’s around 5.4GW of bifacial solar capacity operating globally, predominantly in Asia, with that number set to rise tenfold and achieve equal distribution across Asia and North America in the next five years.

This popularity with developers is not just due to increases in efficiency, but also durability. Bifacial modules have glass on both sides, which increases the energy production but also extends the lifetime of the product when compared to its mono-facial counterpart.

Heavyweight champions

These modules are also often up to 30% heavier than regular mono-facial panels, as they’re built to withstand significant weather conditions. The glass on a bifacial module can handle 2.5cm hail (typically the largest it will get), and many manufacturers use glass that’s 2mm thick, as the flexibility reduces the number of micro-cracks, and allows the glass to bend, rather than break. As a result, bifacial modules can be used in a wide range of locations where solar would not have previously been considered a good option.

The extra weight increases durability of the panels, cutting the frequency of part replacement, saving time and money. Due to this, the manufacturers guarantee includes a lower degradation rate (the decline in output that all solar panels experience over time) – another significant gain in IRR and project viability.

But it’s not without its challenges

The panels do not stand alone, they fit within the framework of a project as a whole, and so many elements of site design have to be adjusted to fit.

Investor assurance is key

Another challenge is the bankability of the modules with financial institutions. To a point, bifacial technology is still ‘new’ and can be interpreted as a ‘risky’ investment. Early adopters, like ourselves are overcoming this hurdle by strengthening R&D and demonstrating rigorous testing.

As there are no international standards yet for bifacial panels, testing products consistently can be difficult. To overcome this, we’ve been working closely with module providers on pre-shipment testing . We’ve built healthy relationships with the top 10 global solar manufacturers, which has allowed us to place significant orders, currently earmarked for projects across Europe, the US and Australia.

What’s next?

While bifacial panels are in many ways superior to mono-facial panels, there is still potential to improve performance further. Without getting into deep technical specifics, the next step would be to upgrade the type of silicon wafer used in the cells of the panels, from traditional P-type to the more expensive but more efficient N-type. We are currently trialling N-type cells on one of our projects in the UK and look forward to seeing the results.

 

 

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Genel

Turbo Energy participates in the expansion of Pamesa’s solar photovoltaic Project

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Pamesa Grupo Empresarial has expanded its solar photovoltaic plan by installing monocrystalline silicon modules and a set of all-in-one SunBox Smart equipment from the company Turbo Energy, with the aim of generating and storing solar electricity to be consumed efficiently and maximising CO2 savings.

The SunBox equipment uses intelligent management software that automatically and instantly optimises the use of solar electricity from the panels. In this sense, the company explains that “the software makes decisions on consumption or storage of the energy generated by the sun depending on parameters such as the building’s energy consumption schedules, the cost of electricity at any given time or the present and future weather at a specific location”.

For its part, the company IM2 Energía Solar, a member of the Umbrella Capital group, of which Turbo Energy is also a member, has installed 256 kW of solar panels and 50 kWh of batteries for the Pamesa Cerámica offices, which supply the entire office and showroom complex. The Logistics Centre has 6.36 kW of panels and 107 kWh of batteries that will be used mainly to power the forklift trucks that transport the material during the day and night.

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Genel

Digital Twin technology leader Cityzenith pledges to reverse carbon emissions in our most polluted cities

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Clean Cities – Clean Future

Cityzenith CEO Michael Jansen has launched a global ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future’ campaign to help our most polluted urban centres become carbon neutral, by donating the company’s Digital Twin platform SmartWorldPro2 to key cities, one at a time.

Cities produce more than 70%* of the earth’s greenhouse gases, but Jansen says use of cutting-edge data and AI will change this dramatically:

“Since our inception we have been using these tools to deliver custom climate resilience applications to greenfield cities, real estate developments, and infrastructure projects.

“We know the issues and now have the right data aggregation, analysis, and visualization capabilities to help solve them for cities, and those who design, build, and manage them.

“The world’s top 100 most-polluting cities produce 18%** of global urban emissions and we will meet this challenge head-on, by going right to the biggest contributors first. As one megacity reaps the benefits, so others and governments will follow their example. What works for one will work for all. That is the beauty of SmartWorldPro2.

“Launching this ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future’ initiative marks a milestone for us and shareable, networked, city-scale Digital Twin deployments. Digital Twins were first developed to aggregate, analyze, and visualize vastly complex information in manufacturing plants and building construction sites, but have evolved into a powerful aid to urban climate resilience and lowering carbon emissions.

“We’ve spoken publicly since 2013 about Digital Twin technology’s potential to accelerate energy transition and it’s now a reality. Early Cityzenith-led carbon emission reduction projects included efforts in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Chicago. These culminated in a World Smart City Award recognition, plus a World Cities Summit Young Leader appointment and letter of support from the C40 Cities Climate Action Group to jointly explore collaboration.

“Our focus has expanded to include large-scale commercial projects in cities as in the Orlando Sports + Entertainment District and greenfield ‘smart cities’ like Amaravati in India.

“In Amaravati, by consolidating myriads of climate related data points, the goal was to show how architects could use advanced AI integrations in SmartWorldPro to simulate and design housing schemes to lower carbon emissions and cut average street temperatures dramatically in high summer.

“Today we are helping partners all over the world leverage Digital Twin power across their district, infrastructure, campus and real estate projects to transition from fossil fuel dependency to carbon neutrality.

“But no one seems to be helping cities to implement this technology, and that’s why we decided to step in and make our pledge.

“We’ve asked people all over the world to join our mission. Where the world’s governments have backed off or just don’t know what to do, We the People need to lead the way. To learn more and find out how you can get involved, visit our pledge campaign page here

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Genel

Helsinki Energy Challenge continues – registration phase prolonged

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The coronavirus does not stop Helsinki’s climate work. The schedule for the international Helsinki Energy Challenge has been altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the competition process remains intact despite the changes in the schedule.

Helsinki wants to offer a platform for new, sustainable and innovative solutions, and, on 27 February, the City opened the international Helsinki Energy Challenge. The competition seeks to find solutions, by means of which the city can be heated in a sustainable way without coal and with as little biomass as possible during the upcoming decades. The grand prize of the competition is one million euros. The City of Helsinki lives up to its global responsibility in the fight against climate change and is committed to sharing the results of the competition openly, in order to allow other cities to benefit from them in their own climate work. The role of the cities in the fight against the climate crisis is decisive.

Despite the world situation caused by the coronavirus, the City of Helsinki keeps investing heavily in its climate work. The climate crisis has not been cancelled and the City is still working its way towards a carbon neutral Helsinki. In order to get the best possible result out of the Helsinki Energy Challenge even in this changed situation, it has been decided that the registration phase is prolonged. The prolonged registration phase ends on 30 September 2020. The finalist teams invited to the second phase of the competition are announced in the beginning of November and the winner of the competition will be revealed in March 2021.

“Our competition got off to a great start at the end of February, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive both in Finland and abroad. It is clear that we have started something unique. However, the changed world situation caused by the coronavirus comes at a difficult stage in respect to our competition. Innovators and potential competitors now need time to adapt to the new situation and prolonging the registration phase of the competition is necessary at this point. The competition process will remain otherwise unaltered. Despite the coronavirus, we need to stick to the climate goals. We still have to get rid of coal and we want to replace it with long-term sustainable solutions. We are fulfilling our responsibility in the fight against the global climate crisis and we will not let it wait until the coronavirus crisis has blown over. Both the Helsinki Energy Challenge and our other climate efforts continue at full strength”, notes Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

During the prolonged registration phase of the Helsinki Energy Challenge, there will be additional webinars and other virtual events, during which the competitors can learn more about the competition, but also look for members to their competition team. Interested parties are encouraged to enter the competition as diversified and cross-disciplinary teams.

The new competition schedule and further information about the Helsinki Energy Challenge: www.energychallenge.hel.fi

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