Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Toor, Fatima

First Committee Member

Stein, Joshua S

Second Committee Member

Deline, Chris

Third Committee Member

Andersen, David

Fourth Committee Member

Kruger, Anton

Fifth Committee Member

Wang, Jun


Bifacial photovoltaics (PV) is a promising technology which allows solar cells to absorb light and generate power from both front and rear sides of the cells. Bifacial PV systems generate more power per area compared to their monofacial counterparts because of the additional energy generated from the backside. However, modeling the performance of bifacial PV systems is more challenging than monofacial systems and industry requires novel and accurate modeling tools to understand and estimate the benefit of this technology. In this dissertation, a rigorous model utilizing a backward raytracing software tool called RADIANCE is developed, which allows accurate irradiance modeling of the front and rear sides of the bifacial PV systems. The developed raytracing model is benchmarked relative to other major bifacial irradiance modeling tools based on view-factor model. The accuracy of the irradiance models is tested by comparing with the measured irradiance data from the sensors installed on various bifacial PV systems. Our results show that the raytracing model is more accurate in modeling backside irradiance compared to the other irradiance models. However, this higher accuracy comes at a cost of higher computational time and resources. The raytracing model is also used to understand the impact of different installation parameters such as tilt angle, height above the ground, albedo and size of the south-facing fixed-tilt bifacial PV systems. Results suggest bifacial gain has a linear relationship with albedo, and an increasing saturating relationship with module height. However, the impact of tilt angle is much more complicated and depends on other installation parameters. It is shown that larger bifacial systems may have up to 20º higher optimum tilt angle compared to small-scale systems. We also used the raytracing model to simulate and compare the performance of two common configurations for bifacial PV systems: optimally tilted facing south/north (BiS/N) and vertically installed facing east/west (BiE/W). Our results suggest that in the case of no nearby obstruction, BiS/N performs better than BiE/W for most of the studied locations. However, the results show that for high latitude locations such as Alaska, having a small nearby obstruction may result in having better yield for vertical east-facing system than south-facing tilted system. RADIANCE modeling tool is also used in combination of a custom tandem device model to simulate the performance of tandem bifacial PV systems. Modeling results suggest that while the energy gain from bifacial tandem systems is not high, range of suitable top-cell bandgaps is greatly broadened. Therefore, more options for top-cell absorber of tandem cell are introduced.


Bifacial PV, Performance Modeling, Photovoltaic, Raytracing


xiii, 108 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 104-108).


Copyright © 2019 Amir Asgharzadeh Shishavan