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Double-sided solar panels that follow the sun are coming and they are 35% more efficient

Double-sided solar panels that tilt according to the position of the sun could increase the amount of energy collected. The two approaches existed independently of each other before, but researchers have now examined the effects of their combination.

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A breakthrough for solar panels

Carlos Rodríguez-Gallegos of the Solar Energy Research Institute in Singapore and his colleagues found that double-sided solar panels that track the sun would produce 35 per cent more energy and reduce the average cost of electricity by 16 per cent.

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The goal of any solar panel is to absorb as much solar energy as possible,” says Rodríguez-Gallegos. Currently, solar panels around the world are mainly installed with a fixed orientation, and therefore only absorb light on one side.

A combination of two existing systems

The advantage of using double-sided solar panels is that they can also absorb the energy that is reflected from the ground on their back side,” explains Carlos Rodríguez-Gallegos.

There are two types of solar panels with solar tracker or sun tracker. Single-axis trackers follow the sun over the course of a day, moving from east to west. The two-axis trackers also follow the sun throughout the year, changing their position according to the seasons, as the sun is higher in summer and lower in winter.

Considerable energy savings

In their analysis, the team calculated the overall energy generated by a variety of combinations of different solar panel configurations.

They analyzed global weather data from NASA’s orbiting clouds and the Earth’s radiant energy system instrument and then estimated the total energy generated in different configurations. The team found that double-sided panels would produce 35% more energy when combined with single-axis trackers, and 40% more when combined with double-axis trackers.

And a reduction in the cost of electricity

The group also took into account the costs related to materials, construction and maintenance of these solar panels, which differ from one country to another.
The group also took into account the costs related to materials, construction and maintenance of these solar panels, which differ from one country to another.

The combination of double-sided solar panels and single-axis trackers could reduce the cost of electricity – an indicator of what a consumer pays per kilowatt-hour of solar energy produced – by 16% in most countries of the world, according to the study team.

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