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Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

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Effect of soiling in bifacial PV modules and cleaning schedule optimization T

Enric Grau Luque, Fernando Antonanzas-Torres, Rodrigo Escobar
Escuela de Ingeniería, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Santiago, Chile


Keywords: Bifacial photovoltaic (PV) modules and cells can transform solar radiation into electricity from both front and
Bifacial PV rear sides, unlike traditional solar technologies which can only generate power through the front face. This
Soiling ability has shown to increase electric output with various levels of increment, depending on parameters such as
Solar photovoltaic distance to the ground, distance between modules, and albedo. This power gain characteristic versatility has
Cleaning schedule
attracted the industry, gaining both commercial and research interest. Measuring soiling effects in bifacial
modules is an important milestone for the technology, since it is an important source of efficiency loss, thus
relevant to the industry when evaluating and designing bifacial systems. In this work soiling rates are measured
for bifacial minimodules and compared with traditional monofacial minimodules. The experiment was carried
out for a period of two months in Santiago, Chile, measuring short circuit current of the minimodules along with
the irradiance in the module plane and albedo. Also, a methodology is proposed to distinguish between soiling in
the front and rear sides of bifacial modules, with which a mixed integer lineal problem is designed to obtain
optimum cleaning frequency under different strategies and conditions for a period of three years, from 2014 to
2016. It is observed that soiling rate in the monofacial minimodule is 0.301%/day, meanwhile a rate of 0.236%/
day was measured for the bifacial module. Also, a rate of 0.0394%/day was calculated for the rear side of the
bifacial module, roughly 8.8 times smaller than the front side rate. Finally, several optimizations and simulations
where performed to see the effects of soiling rate, albedo, rain, cleaning costs and strategy in cleaning frequency
of both the front and rear sides of a bifacial PV system.

1. Introduction the market with about 97% of the share in 2016, expecting bifacial
modules to reach 10% of market share by 2019 and over 35% in 2027
Bifacial photovoltaic (PV) modules can transform solar radiation [7]. This lack of research in those first decades has resulted in a defi-
into electricity from both front and rear sides, unlike traditional solar cient understanding of bifacial devices, making its entrance into the
modules which can only generate power through the front face. This market uncertain and slow. An example of this is the deficient char-
ability has shown to increase electric output with various levels of in- acterization of bifacial cells and modules in Standard Test Conditions
crement, depending on parameters such as distance to the ground, (STC). Though the method is accurate and reliable for traditional
distance between modules, and albedo [1–3]. This power gain char- technology, it has shown not to be adequate for bifacial devices, since
acteristic has attracted the industry, gaining both commercial and re- the method does not consider bifaciality. Some authors have tried to
search interest. counter this problem with innovative equipment [8,9], but further re-
Another reason for this growth in engagement with bifacial tech- search is needed to conceive to standard hardware and methodology
nology is the capacity to be installed vertically facing east-west. It has that outputs reliable and useful information. This characterization
been calculated that in this configuration is possible to increase power problem also lead to a lack of simulation tools for bifacial modules,
output compared to a tilted configuration, depending on the geographic meaning that it is not possible to generically simulate a bifacial solar
location and albedo [4]. Also, when installed vertically facing east-west system, with some authors developing tools for only particular situa-
the power peak is split in two and shifted to the morning and afternoon, tions [10–12], being a problem for designers and engineers. Though, a
adjusting better to electric demands, lowering storage capacity [5]. recent attempt tried to model generically bifacial systems [13], con-
Even though this technology has been studied since at least the early sidering variables including module elevation, bifaciality and albedo
60′s and scientifically described in the late 70′s [6], research and in- within a comprehensive. To validate their model they compare ex-
dustry interest has concentrated in monofacial technology, dominating perimental and simulation results from other published articles

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (R. Escobar).
Received 16 May 2018; Received in revised form 22 July 2018; Accepted 17 August 2018
Available online 24 August 2018
0196-8904/ © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

including both tilted and vertical mounted bifacial systems. They obtain properly design a cleaning schedule.
remarkable low errors in their results with differences ranging from 0.1 In terms of bifacial modules, it is known that the accumulation of
to 4.4 percentage points in bifacial gain (i.e: difference between re- matter in a surface diminishes with the angle [28], so it is safe to say
ported bifacial gain in % and calculated bifacial gain in %). Never- that bifacial modules will suffer less soiling in the rear side when tilted
theless, further investigation and development is needed to lower this and in both sides when vertical facing east-west compared to tilted
error and develop a commercial available software that designers can monofacial modules. On the other hand, bifacial modules have two
use and that also have better understanding and simulation of de- sides to be cleaned, increasing the cost of a complete clean event,
gradation [14], thermal effects [15] and proper integration and simu- compared to monofacial modules. Then it is of vital importance to
lation of albedo [16]. measure soiling rates for this technology and differentiate between
Another matter with lack of research is soiling in bifacial modules. front and rear sides of the bifacial module and optimize cleaning
Soiling is the accumulation of dust, dirt, snow, or any substance over schedules considering all the above.
the photovoltaic module, decreasing its efficiency and therefore redu- Only two references were found that included soiling for bifacial
cing the electric output of the system [17–19]. It has also been docu- modules. In the first work the authors compare the performance of
mented that interest in soiling of solar technology, both thermal and tilted mounted monofacial modules with vertical bifacial modules fa-
photovoltaic, has gained increasing interest over the past ten years, cing east-west in Saudi Arabia [29]. During the experimental period, a
pushed by manufacturing growth, decrease in module prices and in- dust storm occurred, by which the monofacial modules lost about 60%
dustry interest [20]. As documented by Costa et al. [20], about 80 in performance until they were cleaned, while the bifacial modules
scientific articles related to soiling in solar systems were published in didn't show any kind of loss. It must be considered that soiling during
2015, compared to about 10 articles in 2005. dust storms is a very specific situation, thus the results cannot be
The influence of soiling and it associated expenses have been stu- generalized and extrapolated to other types of dust, soiling and loca-
died for different photovoltaic and thermal solar technologies in several tions. Still, this occurrence is in accordance to the evidence and shows
locations around the world, showing that the results vary for each an advantage of vertical bifacial modules.
particular technology, location, climate, season and year [17,20,21]. Another work including soiling in bifacial modules found aimed to
Even though the problem can drastically change for each specific site, evaluate the effects of the structural frame shade in energy yield of
the general solution is always cleaning, for what different methods can bifacial modules, studying also soiling [30]. The authors installed tilted
be applied. This different cleaning methods can generally be classified monofacial and bifacial modules and vertical bifacial modules, mea-
in four categories: natural cleaning, mechanical cleaning, self-cleaning suring short circuit current Isc . After 60 days of outdoor exposure the
coatings, and electrostatic removal methods [22]. Of all the latter, the modules were cleaned. To see soiling effects, they normalized the Isc
second option is the most common solution in the industry, but self- with global irradiance Gnet . It is calculated that the difference of this
cleaning methods, particularly for glass, is a big scientific area, with ratio before and after the cleaning was basically 0% for vertical bifacial
about 5000 published articles in 2017 and with a steady increase from modules, while the difference for tilted modules were about -12.5% for
past years [23]. the bifacial modules and -17.25% for the monofacial module. This work
As there are associated costs to cleaning, a cleaning schedule opti- then is also in accordance with evidence and consistent with results
mization should be prepared for each site and system, so the washing observed in Hajjar et al. [29].
costs do not surpass the economic benefit of it. A general and common This work is focused on soiling analysis for bifacial modules in an
approach for this is to find an optimal cleaning interval considering attempt to differentiate with traditional PV technology in the matter.
electricity sell price and cleaning costs. This is performed by Urrejola For this, a methodology to obtain soiling rates for the rear face from
et al. [24] using soiling data collected from a two-year experiment experimental data is proposed, using the information to optimize the
performed in Santiago, Chile, analyzing different energy prices and cleaning schedule for both front and rear faces of a bifacial PV system,
cleaning costs scenarios under a constant discount rate for a monofacial analyzing different scenarios of albedo, cleaning costs, rain and
polycrystalline residential system. The authors observe that for all cases cleaning strategy. The paper is structured as follow: chapter 2 collates
there is a critical cleaning period (CCP), representing the threshold day the experimental setup and procedure, chapter 3 the optimization
from which no case should pass due to a rapid cleaning cost increase model, chapter 4 the results and discussion and eventually, chapter 5
beyond that day [24]. A similar approach is performed by Besson et al. presents the conclusions.
[25], where an optimization model is developed considering also the
effect of rain as natural free cleaning. The work shows how rain can 2. Experimental setup and procedure
affect cleaning decisions of a solar system, being able to avoid me-
chanical cleaning when rain is considerable [25]. 2.1. Installation and site description
A different approach for defining an cleaning schedule is to use the
Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE), as performed in [26]. In the article, This study considered two polycrystalline monofacial minimodules
the authors use 21 months of data to evaluate the changes in LCoE due and two bifacial monocrystalline minimodules with four cells in series
to parameters such as soiling, degradation and temperature in thin film each, as shown in Fig. 1. For each minimodule, short circuit current Isc
and monocrystalline systems in the coastal zone of the Atacama Desert was measured through a shunt resistor. Global irradiance in the plane of
in Chile. As a result, they conclude that at a rate of 12 cleanings a year, the array GPOA and albedo A were measured with pyranometers. The
the performance rate (PR) can improve 8% compared to three times a albedo was measured at 180° in the same axis as the GPOA pyranometer
year, improving the LCoE in 1.1 cent/kWp from 15.56 cent/kWp. (inverse plane). Data was collected in a time resolution of one minute.
Another approach is to estimate optimal cleaning frequency de- An image of the setup is presented in Fig. 1. For each technology, one
pending on the size of dust particles and accumulation density. The module was assigned to be cleaned once a week, while the other was
latter is performed in [27], where a method is develop to estimate dust left to soil through the whole experimental period. The modules where
deposition and cleaning frequency for different particle sizes and tilted at 35° and 10° azimuth (North = 0°).
module tilts in desert conditions. The simulated cases show that The study was performed on the solar laboratory at Pontificia
cleaning time decreases with the increase of particle size and increases Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), in the roof of a three-story
with increasing angles. For the latter, when increasing the angle from 0° building inside the campus. Measurements started on September 12th,
to 80°, the optimal cleaning interval goes from 20 to 80 days when 2017 and concluded on November 21st. The university campus is lo-
particle size in 20 µm, and from 6,000 to 25,000 days when particle size cated in the city of Santiago, the capital of Chile. According to the last
is 1 µm, thus site-specific dust characterization might be suitable to census of 2017 [31], the city has a population of 5.2 million people,

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

Fig. 1. Experimental equipment used: on the left a general view of the structure, four modules and pyranometers and at the right a close-up view of the POA and
Albedo pyranometers setup. The experiment was performed in the roof of a three-story building and later moved to a new facility after the experiment was finished.
The image corresponds to the new laboratory at the roof of a seven-story building for display purposes only.

about 30% of the entire population, indicating then to be the city with current of the soiled module and the clean module, respectively.
biggest demand for residential PV systems, installed at houses and For each technology, dr is shifted so it is zero for the first day (i.e.:
buildings rooftops. dr,0 = 0 ), as shown in Fig. 4. Comparison between GPOA and albedo A
Geographically speaking, the city of Santiago is located between and respective averages are presented in Fig. 5.
two mountain ranges: Cordillera de los Andes and Cordillera de la
Costa. This condition obstructs air flow and air renovation, favoring the 2.3. Soiling rate
accumulation of different pollutants such as CO, SO2 and particulate
matter (PM) PM10 and PM2.5, exceeding constantly air quality standards Soiling rate (SR) is calculated by subtracting the relative difference
[32]. It has been calculated that the mixing layer height (MLH), the in day a (dr , a ) and day b (dr , b ), dividing by the number of days b−a . Due
limit where pollutants are mixed with air by turbulence and diffusion, to rain events, the experiment period is divided in three sections, thus
can range around 1,800 m at any given day [33]. Even though no calculating three soiling rates. Between days 19 and 24, heavy rain
chemical analysis of the accumulated soil on the modules was per- events cleaned completely the front of all the modules, and a small rain
formed, soiling properties can be related to the pollution levels due to event in day 51 cleaned partially the front of the modules. With the
this thick mixing layer of pollutants and its horizontal and vertical latter, considered periods and respective soiling rates for the bifacial
diffusion properties, hence similar effects could be observed through and monofacial minimodules are presented in Table 2.
the city at different neighborhoods and altitudes on residential con- To fully characterize soiling in bifacial modules, it should be dis-
structions. This pollution layer can be easily appreciated in Fig. 1 tinguished between the front and rear faces. For this, it is possible to
during an average spring day express the ideal short circuit current of the module Isc as
The climate in Santiago is considered Mediterranean, with a long
Isc = If + Ir (2)
dry summer station and rainy winter. During the summer, temperatures
can reach over 33 °C and drop below 0° in winter. Rainfall will typically where If and Ir are the ideal short circuit currents contributed by the
concentrate during the months of May through June, and some pre- front and rear sides without soiling, respectively.
cipitation may be observed during the summer period. Windspeed does Also, bifacial modules might have different efficiencies in each side,
not change significantly through the year, though in tends to be lower being the front more efficient than the rear side, then it is possible to
in winter with an east predominant direction. Daily average values for a write the rear current as
Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) for GHI, DNI, temperature, rain,
Ir = If × B (3)
relative humidity, and wind speed are plotted in Fig. 2, indicating
maximum and minimum values for each variable. Data was extracted where B is the bifaciality of the device, defined as
from the Solar Explorer of the Ministry of Energy of Chile1. ηr
ηf (4)
2.2. Data processing
being ηf and ηr the efficiency of the front a rear side, respectively.
In order to use more representative data, a set of filters were applied Also, in bifacial devices the rear side receives albedo A , defined as a
to rule out measurements. In particular, the criteria is presented in fraction of the irradiance, so equation (2) can be rewritten as
Table 1, as performed in Besson et al. [25]. With this, days 39 and 51 Isc = If + A × B × If (5)
were ruled completely due to heavy cloud density.
In Fig. 3, the ratio RIG = Isc, meadured / GPOA is plotted for each mini- Isc
If =
module, being Isc, measured the measured short circuit current, as per- 1+A×B (6)
formed in [34]. In Fig. 4 the relative difference dr for each technology is
Then, when soiling is present, it is described as a rate in a time scale
shown, defined as
(day, month, year) multiplied by the time passed since last cleaning,
RIG, clean−RIG, soiled thus:
dr = × 100
RIG, clean (1) Isc, measured = If × (1−SRf × Nf ) + Ir ·(1−SRr ·Nr ) (7)
Where RIG, soiled and RIG, clean stand for the ratio between the short circuit
Isc, measured = × ((1−SRf × Nf ) + A × B × (1−SRr × Nr ))
Website: (8)

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

Fig. 2. climate conditions for GHI, DNI, temperature, relative humidity, rain, and wind speed in daily averages for a TMY in Santiago, Chile. Maximum and minimum
values for each variable are labeled.

Table 1 rewritten as
Parameter acceptance criteria for collected data during the experiment period.
Parameter Acceptance criteria Unit RIG, measured = × ((1−SRf × Nf ) + A × B × (1−SRr × Nr ))
1 + A·B (9)
GPOA X > 300 W/m2
With this, values for SRr are resumed in Table 3. Soiling rates for the
Solar azimuth −80 < X < 80 °
Solar elevation X > 25 ° bifacial moduleSRb , monofacial module SRm and for the rear side of the
bifacial module SRr are plotted in Fig. 6.

Fig. 3. Comparison between RIG, clean and RIG, soiled for both monofacial and bifacial minimodules. Dashed lines show the linear regression performed for each set of

where SRf and SRr are the soiling rates for the front and rear sides of the 2.4. Validation
bifacial module, respectively, Nf and Nr are the time without cleaning
for each side, and Isc, measured is the measured current. In order to validate Eq. (9), simulations were performed for the first
To estimate the soiling rate SRr for the rear side of the bifacial 49 days introducing experimental data acquired during the experiment.
minimodule, experimental data is introduced in equation (8) divided by This was performed because the equation supposes known values for Nf
GPOA so it is in function of RIG instead of the short circuit current. Soiling and Nr , which is not possible after the rain events in day 50, where the
rate of the front SRf is assumed to be equal to the soiling rate of the rain cleaned significantly the modules but not completely, thus the
monofacial module (SRf = SRm ) and B = 1. With the latter, (8) is equivalent days of soiling it is not known.

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

Fig. 4. Relative difference dr for both bifacial and monofacial minimodules. Dashed lines show the linear regression performed for each set of data.

Fig. 5. Comparison of GPOA , albedo A and respective averages.

Table 2 To validate the lineal regression, the determination coefficient (R2)

Soiling rates for bifacial and monofacial minimodules. was used, as seen in Table 4, including also the correlation coefficient
Day a Day b dr , a (%) dr , b (%) dr , a−dr , a Days Soiling SRb (%/day) and root mean square error (RMSE) as a reference. It was obtained a R2
of 0.84 for both clean and soiled bifacial module RIG (Fig. 3). Also, a
Bifacial module 0.89 was obtained for the relative difference, as seen in Fig. 4. On the
1 15 0 3.74 3.74 14 0.249 other hand, for the clean monofacial a 0.63 value was calculated.
25 46 0.310 4.81 4.50 22 0.204
Meanwhile, the R2 corresponding to the relative difference for the
52 64 2.13 5.21 3.08 13 0.238
Average: 0.236 monofacial modules achieved a 0.94 value.
Monofacial module
1 15 0 3.90 3.90 14 0.279 3. Optimization model
24 46 −0.07 4.98 5.05 22 0.223
51 64 1.49 6.71 5.22 13 0.402 The optimization model is based in the approach by Besson et al.
Average: 0.301
[25]. In this publication, they design an optimization problem for
cleaning frequency of a Mono c-Si 1590 Wp system. In particular, what
they proposed is the following mixed integer lineal problem:
Table 3
Estimated soiling rates for the rear face of the bifacial module. T
max ∑ sst × CPt × EP−x t CC
Bifacial module, rear side (10)

Day a Day b Nf Nr SRr (%/day) Subject to:

1 15 14 14 0.0429 sst + 1 ≤ sst −SRt × (1−x t ) + x t + Rt (11)

24 46 22 46 0.0357
51 64 13 64 0.0396 T
Average: 0.0394 MinC ≤ ∑ xt ≤ MaxC
t=1 (12)

0 ≤ sst ≤ 1 (13)
To estimate the ideal RIG a lineal regression was made considering
only clean days of the bifacial and monofacial modules. Results of the where the maximized function is the balance between electricity cost
simulations are presented in Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 as dashed lines. and cleaning costs, sst is the soiling state, being 100 completely cleaned

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

Fig. 6. Soiling rates during the experimental period for the monofacial and bifacial modules (left) and for the rear side of the bifacial module (right) with respective

Table 4 binary cleaning decision parameters for each side of the bifacial system,
Correlation coefficient, R2 coefficient and RMSE for each simulation, between similar to what Besson et al. [25] did for a monofacial PV system.
days 1 and 50.
Sim Corr. Coef. R2 Coef. RMSE 3.1. Daily yield

Bifi clean 0.91 0.84 0.00013 The daily yield CPft was obtained from the simulation of a 1 kWp
Bifi soiled 0.91 0.84 0.00014
monofacial system in Santiago, Chile, using the software SAM [35] and
Bifi diff 0.94 0.89 0.58
Mono clean 0.79 0.63 0.00012 solar resource data for 2014–2016 measured in the same laboratory as
Mono soiled 0.86 0.75 0.00013 the experiment. From that, CPrt is in function of CPft , this because no
Mono diff 0.97 0.94 0.63 reliable enough tool for simulating bifacial systems has been developed,
being this a simple deterministic approach for bifacial gain in power
and 0 completely soiled, x t the cleaning decision binary variable for
each day t , being 1 for cleaning and 0 for not cleaning, CPt the daily 3.2. Cleaning cost
ideal energy yield not affected by soiling in kWh/day, EP a constant
price of 160 USD/kWh at which the energy is sold, CC the cleaning cost In Besson et al. [25] the CC was 1 and 4 USD/kW representing a
in USD/kWp/clean varying two values of 1 and 4, SRt the soiling rate in low-cost and high-cost cleaning scenario, respectively. For this work the
%/day, Rt a binary variable being 1 if rain is over 1 mm (considered a same procedure was performed, with the additional consideration that
free perfect cleaning) and 0 for days without rain, MinC and MaxC the the CC is equal for both sides. As a result it cannot be concluded either a
minimum and maximum allowed cleanings for the study horizon, t in higher or lower value for rear cleaning, since much lower amounts of
days, and T as the study horizon in days, being 365 for the year 2014 dirt are accumulated, thus it might take less effort to clean the rear. On
[25]. the other hand, the difficulty of cleaning the rear side of the modules
The latter does not consider bifaciality, so it is necessary to consider might increase costs, but no evidence or information on this issue or the
it in order to obtain an optimal frequency for bifacial systems. In par- latter is described in the literature. Also, it is considered that rain does
ticular, it is a requirement to distinguish between the front and rear face not affect the soiling state in the rear side, since it is covered by the
of the bifacial module, thus the problem is modified as follows: front, and bouncing rain drops from the frame, condensation and wind
T [36] in the rear side are not accounted to have cleaning or any addi-
max ∑ (ssft × CPft + ssrt × B × A × CPft ) × EP−CC (xft + xrt ) tional effects.
t=1 (14)
Subject to: 3.3. Albedo
ssft + 1 ≤ ssft −SRft × (1−xft ) + xft + Rt (15)
During the experiment an albedo value of 0.12 was measured, being
ssrt + 1 ≤ ssrt −SRrt × (1−xrt ) + xrt (16) the unaltered albedo at the laboratory. Higher albedo magnitudes are
fairly common on the literature [37–40], so it makes sense to increase
the albedo to observe the effects on the model. For this, an albedo of
MinC ≤ ∑ xft ≤ MaxC
0.24 was also analyzed, being this the double of the measured albedo in
t=1 (17)
site. Though, 0.24 is easily obtainable with different materials available
in nature and the market, as shown in [41] with materials such as grey
MinC ≤ ∑ xrt ≤ MaxC and white shingles, concrete, sandstone, sand and other materials sui-
t=1 (18)
table for residential and industrial use.
0 ≤ ssft ≤ 1 (19)
3.4. Electricity price
0 ≤ ssrt ≤ 1 (20)
where B is the bifaciality of the device, A the albedo, ssft and ssrt are the In Besson et al. [25], a constant EP of 160 USD/kWh was considered
soiling states for the front a rear sides, CPft the ideal energy yield for the one-year optimizations. In this work, as more years are con-
without soiling, xft and xrt the cleaning decision binary variables for sidered, using an average price comes as an important assumption since
each day t and each side, SRft and SRrt the soiling rates in in %/day, they change every month. In Chile, regulated tariffs are divided in low-
MinC , MaxC, MinC ', and MaxC' the minimum and maximum allowed tension (BT) and high-tension (AT), having both options different
cleanings for the study horizon. In short, this problem optimizes the billing schemes and prices for electricity, power, and other charges. A
balance between electric prices and cleaning costs, by optimizing the common tariff for residential bills is BT-1, which charges only a fixed

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

Table 5 frequency for once a month (35 cleanings), every two months (17
Specifications for each optimization and simulation and number of cleanings cleanings), every three months (11 cleanings) and every four months (8
events for the front (FC) and rear (RC) and Balance (Bal). cleanings) for the best scenario in terms of cleaning costs and albedo of
With rain Without rain CC = 1 USD/kW and A = 0.12 . In these cases, when rain was con-
sidered, no cleaning was performed for months in which rain was over
Tech CC ($) A N° FC RC Bal. ($) N° FC RC Bal. ($) 1 mm, considered as free cleaning. The results are summarized in
Table 5.
Separate cleaning
Bifi 1 0.12 1.a 15 3 805 5.a 34 4 782 xrt = xft (21)
Bifi 4 0.12 2.a 2 1 777 6.a 16 1 709
Bifi 1 0.24 3.a 15 5 893 7.a 33 5 869
xrt = 0 (22)
Bifi 4 0.24 4.a 2 2 863 8.a 15 2 794

Simultaneous cleaning
Bifi 1 0.12 1.b 10 10 799 5.b 23 23 760 4. Results and discussion
Bifi 4 0.12 2.b 2 2 772 6.b 11 11 668
Bifi 1 0.24 3.b 10 10 889 7.b 24 24 852
Bifi 4 0.24 4.b 3 3 858 8.b 12 12 759 In this section, results are discussed for the number of optimizations
and simulations performed. To ease the latter, each optimization and
No rear cleaning
Bifi 1 0.12 1.c 15 0 794 5.c 33 0 771
simulation has been assigned with an identifier consisting in a number
Bifi 4 0.12 2.c 2 0 772 6.c 16 0 704 and a lower-case letter separated by a dot. When indicating an X instead
Bifi 1 0.24 3.c 15 0 867 7.c 33 0 848 of the number or letter, it references to all the cases with the explicit
Bifi 4 0.24 4.c 2 0 844 8.c 15 0 777 character. For example, 7.x indicates all cases that contain “7″ (7.a, 7.b
Simulations and so on), and X.a all cases that contain “a” (1.a, 2.a and so on). Every
Bifi 1 0.24 1.d 15 15 881 9.d 35 35 843 case is referenced to with this nomenclature, which is indicated in
Bifi 1 0.24 2.d 15 0 862 10.d 35 0 841
Table 5 as N°.
Bifi 1 0.24 3.d 9 9 881 11.d 17 17 843
Bifi 1 0.24 4.d 9 0 856 12.d 7 0 824
Bifi 1 0.24 5.d 5 5 871 13.d 11 11 817 4.1. Optimization cases
Bifi 1 0.24 6.d 5 0 849 14.d 11 0 794
Bifi 1 0.24 7.d 4 4 868 15.d 8 8 788
Bifi 1 0.24 8.d 4 0 843 16.d 8 0 762
As expected, the highest balance was obtained when cleaning cost
CC was lower and albedo A is higher, what was seen for each strategy
in cases 3.x (considering rain) and 7.x (without rain). On the contrary,
Mono 1 – 1.e 15 – 721 3.e 34 – 698
Mono 4 – 2.e 2 – 699 4.e 16 – 630 the lowest balance was when CC was higher and albedo lower, found in
cases 2.x and 6.x. In particular, the highest balance with rain was ob-
tained in case 3.a with $893 and the lowest in case 2.b and 2.c with
price (service) and electricity. Taking into account the limitations of $772, a 13.6% or $121 lower. This last situation stands out since both
this model, as it is more suitable for a small residential system, the BT-1 2.b and 2.c have A = 0.12 and CC = 4 , but in 2.b a total of four cleaning
electricity prices are considered for each month, through 2014 to 2016, events are performed (two in each side), meanwhile in 2.c only one in
for the location of the simulated system at PUC. the front, thus obtaining equal results with less activity. This is illu-
strated in Fig. 8A, in addition to simulation 2.a. It can be observed that
front cleaning events vary slightly for 2.b, meanwhile 2.a and 2.c pre-
3.5. Cleaning strategies sent identical cleaning schedule for the front side and 2.a obtaining a
modest $5 higher balance of $ 777 (see Fig. 9).
In addition to the latter, different cleaning strategies were evaluated When increasing the albedo from 0.12 to 0.24 and maintaining CC
for the bifacial system, being this: separate cleaning (modified model as and the strategy, the largest balance gain was observed between 6.b and
shown), simultaneous cleaning (by adding Eq. (21) as restriction), no 8.b of about 12.0% or $91 with 11 and 12 cleanings in each side, re-
cleaning on the rear side (adding Eq. (22) as restriction) and a steady spectively. The lowest increase was observed between 1.c and 3.c of
frequency for both sides and only the front. A total of 44 analyses were 8.42% or $73 with no change in FC (RC = 0). Overall, the average
performed for the years 2014–2016. Out of these 44 cases, 28 are op- increase in balance by changing the albedo from 0.12 to 0.24 was
timizations using the above model and 16 are simulations at steady 10.9%.

Fig. 7. Sensibility analysis showing balance with low A values and high soiling rates for the rear face of the bifacial module. Monofacial lines at CC = 1 and CC = 4
are constant.

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

Fig. 8. Results of optimization model for a sample of optimizations in terms of Soiling State (SS) and Balance. Use Table 5 to reference exact parameters for each
simulation number.

When increasing the cleaning cost CC from 1 to 4 and maintaining difference between 2.a and 2.e, being the front cleaning frequency
albedo and strategy, the largest balance difference was observed be- virtually the same. In this case, the biggest difference was in the balance
tween simulations 5.b and 6.b with 12.1% or $92 changing FC and RC values with a 10.6% or $85 difference between 1.a and 1.e and 10.0%
from 23 to 11, while the lowest difference was found between 3.c and or $78 difference between 2.a and 2.e. In the same way, without con-
4.c with 2.64% or $23 changing FC from 15 to 2 (RC = 0). In com- sidering rain, the difference lays in the balance, being 10.7% or $84
parison, for the monofacial system there was a 3.1% or $22 difference higher in 5.a respect to 3.e and both with 34 front cleanings. Also, 6.a
between 1.e and 2.e changing FC from 15 to 2, and a 9.7% or $68 was 11.1% or $79 higher respect to 4.e, but this with the bifacial si-
difference between 3.e and 4.e changing FC from 34 to 16. For the mulation adds one cleaning over the 16 in 10.b, thus showing a small
bifacial system, the average decrease in balance when changing CC difference in the three-year period considered.
from 1 to 4 was 3.2% or $27 with rain, and 9.3% or $75 without rain. In general, best balance values are obtained when cleaning was
When comparing bifacial with monofacial technology it can be optimized separately, followed by simultaneous cleaning being in
appreciated that there are small differences. In fact, when considering average 0.57% lower with rain and 3.2% without rain. With no rear
rain, the difference in front cleanings was 1 between 1.a and 1.e and no cleaning the balance was reduced in average 1.5% with rain and 1.5%

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

Fig. 9. Comparison for a sample of simulations and optimization in terms of Soiling State (SS) and Balance. Use Table 5 to reference exact parameters for each
simulation number.

without rain. The latter is illustrated in Fig. 8C, presenting simulations CC and A balances were higher. It is interesting to notice simulation 2.d
with same parameters without rain. In the figure, the balance lines with 15 front cleaning events and 0 rear cleanings has the same
show little difference while having significantly different cleaning ac- cleaning event number as 3.c, but this latter having a balance of $867
tivities in both front and rear sides. The difference was even lower when and the first $862, 0.58% smaller, as illustrated in Fig. 8A. Just as
rain was present, this because the rain events allow for more similar observed in the optimizations, rain has an important role, reducing
cleaning schedule on the front face. necessary cleanings by 63% when optimizing and 53% for the simula-
Overall, it is clear that albedo has an important effect on the balance tions, in average. In terms of balance, 1.d and 3.d have virtually same
value, having a greater effect than the cleaning cost. On the other hand, value of $881, though the last one with 67% less cleanings. Similarly,
cleaning costs have a greater effect on frequency, especially when rain 3.d is comparable with 3.b, that with two less cleaning events it ob-
is considered. With all this in mind it is evident that, though cleaning tained a 0.90% smaller balance, and 1.5% smaller than 3.a with one less
the front and rear sides according to the separate cleaning strategy has cleaning event (Fig. 9).
higher balance values, the difference with simultaneous and no rear
cleaning strategies of 0.63% and 1.5% (with rain) are low enough that
4.3. Sensibility analysis
by adding other variables, such as logistics, might turn this results
around. This is because it is easier to schedule a simultaneous cleaning
When varying the soiling rate SSr from 0.03 to 0.1 it was seen that,
event or just ignore rear cleaning than planning and performing a se-
under same cleaning cost CC the balance was always greater for a bi-
parate cleaning schedule.
facial system (Fig. 7). In the worst case simulated with CC = 4,
A = 0.03 and SSr = 0.104 the balance was $715, meanwhile the bal-
ance for a monofacial system under same conditions is $699, 2.2%
4.2. Comparing optimization with simulation cases
lower. This is due to the particular way in which the problem was
modeled, since bifacility is considered as a gain over the monofacial
After the optimizations, simulations generated for once a month,
yield. Thus, it always generates more power even if no rear cleanings
every two, three and four months cleaning were performed for the best
were performed.
scenario in terms of cleaning costs and albedo of CC = 1 USD/kW and
A = 0.24 . Cleaning was performed in last day of the corresponding
months if daily rain events were under 1 mm during that month. When 5. Conclusions
analyzing the simulation cases, it can be seen that for all cases balances
were higher when both rear and front cleanings are performed, except This work analyses the outdoor performance of monocrystalline
for 9.d and 10.d. Also, it shows that all optimized scenarios with same bifacial mini-modules and polycrystalline monofacial minimodules in

E.G. Luque et al. Energy Conversion and Management 174 (2018) 615–625

terms of soiling by measuring the short circuit current for a period of enabled this research.
two months in Santiago, Chile. The main purpose of the investigation
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