Solar fence stands out in Gridcog simulation

Solar fences are beginning to gain traction in European and North American markets and now data provided by energy software service provider Gridcog suggests that vertical bifacial solar could be technically and economically viable in Australia.

Australian energy tech provider Gridcog has revealed that solar fences – effectively a bifacial panel oriented east and west at a 90 degree tilt angle – demonstrate promising yield and revenue potential after conducting a simulation comparing a vertical install to a typical ground-mount solar system.

Gridcog, which provides software to plan, track and optimise distributed energy projects, created two scenarios in the simulation, one using conventional solar and one using a solar fence[2] configuration. It then modelled sites in London and Sydney against both scenarios and ran a one-year model against typical irradiance data for each location.

The conventional solar utilised 100 kWdc / 100 kWac systems for both sites using mono-facial panels. London was oriented 180° south and Sydney 0° north, both with a tilt of 40°.

The solar fence scenario comprised 100 kWdc / 100kWac of bifacial panels. The systems were oriented 90° east/180° west at a tilt of 90°, so perpendicular to the ground.

Unsurprisingly the yield curve for the solar fence was different to ground-mount solar, with a dip in the middle of the day, but on an annual basis, overall yields were slightly higher for the solar fence than for the conventional system.

“We’re seeing a 10% total uplift in yield in London and a 3% increase in Sydney,” Gridcog[3] said, noting that while the physical performance more or less aligned with what was expected, the commercial story provided some interesting results.

The generation pattern of the solar fence allowed it to avoid those lower value periods of the day when lower demand and higher solar generation impact wholesale prices.

Gridcog said this was particularly the case for Sydney where middle-of-the-day prices are on average much lower than prices earlier and later in the day.

All AUD revenue is expressed in GBP.

Image: Gridcog

“When these wholesale prices interact with our solar yield curves the solar fence really starts to stand out,” the company said, adding that the vertical install is consistently able to capture much higher prices in the market on each side of the middle-of-the-day lows.

“On an annual basis the advantage of the solar fence is even more obvious,” Gridcog said. “The increase in revenue is significantly higher than the underlying increase in yield; in the case of Sydney a 3% increase in yield has translated into a 30% increase in revenue.”

While capex and opex costs were ignored for the simulation exercise, Gridcog finished by saying that solar fences, which use about 10% of the land compared to conventional ground-mount solar, are “a pretty neat concept.”

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