How much more electricity is generated by bifacial solar cells relative to monofacial cells? A new mathematical formula developed at Purdue University calculates the power production gains and cost savings that can be realized with the latest double-sided photovoltaic technologies.

The formula, or the normalized Shockley-Queisser triangle, can be applied to assess the thermodynamic limits of solar cells developed in the last 50 years, and the findings can then be generalized to technology likely to be developed over the next 20 to 30 years.

The analysis shows that bifacial cells, which are projected to account for nearly half of the global market share for solar panels by 2030, generate on average up to 20% more electricity than traditional monofacial cells. The thermodynamic analysis can be used to improve solar cell design and performance for farmland, urban and other specific applications. Bifacial cells with single junctions can be incorporated into energy-generating windows in cities, and into transparent panels for solar power generation on farmland without casting shadows that would block crop production.

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