In a world where renewable energy sources are becoming more and more important, solar power plants are one of the main contributors to green energy. Traditionally, solar PV plants generate electricity only by using the upper side of the panels (monofacial modules), which faces the sun and is therefore directly hit by solar radiation. A better approach in terms of efficiency is to exploit both sides of the panels using bifacial modules, designed to capture the light reflected onto the back side of the panel. This allows the generation of up to 30% more energy as compared to monofacial modules, and the amount of increased production is directly linked to the albedo, the fraction of surface reflected light. To boost efficiency of PV panels, it is vital to maximize the albedo, which depends on various factors, the most significant being the reflectance of the ground, generally achieved through the use of lightly colored terrains. However, the use of optimal grounds is not always possible, and other solutions must be taken into account.
Enel Green Power largely adopts bifacial PV panels, in order to optimize production and land use, thus minimizing the impact of its solar farms. The surface area of the bifacial module is 1 meter x 2 meters. During the course of the day, trackers will tilt the panels from 45 to 60 degrees from horizontal to optimize solar energy collection. The typical layout of a PV farm includes rows of approximately 45 solar panels separated by 6-8 meters (see Panels Dimensions and Panels Layouts in the Attachments section). In certain situations, solar power plants are sometimes built on lands where the ground does not have the most favorable characteristics for energy production optimization and some actions need to be taken in order to optimize PV panel efficiency.
THINGS TO AVOID
The bifacial modules may not be modified, however, changes to the support structures may be considered.
Currently, a trial with geomembrane is ongoing to measure the impact on the albedo and on power production. Therefore, geomembranes are specifically excluded as potential solutions.
Enel Green Power is looking for new tools and techniques aimed at improving the albedo in solar installations. These solutions could be applied at different stages throughout a project’s life cycle, from early design, through the construction of new plants and the operation of existing ones.
The proposals should include technological and non-technological solutions for increasing the ratio of solar light reflected by the ground and the surroundings of the plant, both for land and floating PV plants. Viable solutions must be applicable to plants in different geographical areas, including LATAM, North America, South Europe and APAC, without interfering with plant operation and maintenance activities.
Submissions should address the following Solution Requirements.
The proposed solutions must:
- Be targeted on improving ground reflectance and, in particular, focused on increasing solar light ratio impacting the back-side of the panel;
- Not interfere with the plant operations and maintenance activities;
- Be applicable in climate/geographical zones of countries where EGP has its solar power plant in operations (such as LATAM; North America; South Europe; APAC);
- Have low installation and maintenance costs:
- Total cost of material and installation approximately 1 (one) USD per square meter. Different cost could be accepted in case of higher energy production increase;
- Maintenance as close to zero as possible;
- Be characterized by easy, low frequency maintenance (less than once a year);
- Be based on sustainable principles, guaranteeing a circular approach through the use and/or reuse of materials with a low environmental and ecological footprint.
Moreover, the solution should also be applicable to floating PV plants.
The submitted proposal should at least include the following documentation:
- A general description and explanation of a solution that can meet the above Solution Requirements, including a cost and benefits estimation;
- Evaluation of the impact also in terms of circular economy goals, if any;
- Identification of the impact in terms of sustainability, of any potential risks or eventual constraints, if any;
- Data, case studies, patents and journal references or any additional material that supports the proposed solution.
The proposal should not include any personal identifying information (name, username, company, address, phone, email, personal website, resume, etc.) or any information the Solvers may consider as their Intellectual Property they do not want to share.