Whitney and Pike Attend World Conference on Solar PV Energy Conversion

Whitney and Pike Attend World Conference on Solar PV Energy Conversion

The widespread use of bifacial solar photovoltaic modules creates new opportunities in extreme latitudes where low-capacity factors have limited the deployment of solar technology in the past. Installation of bifacial photovoltaic modules at different orientations allows for better matches between solar production profiles and load profiles. 

Erin Whitney and Chris Pike attended the 8th World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion in Milan, Italy, Sept. 26-30, 2022. With support from the Office of Naval Research Alaska Regional Collaboration for Technology Innovation and Commercialization program, they presented a poster titled “High Latitude Bifacial Orientation: A Non-Tracking Opportunity to Flatten the Production Curve.” 

Using data from ACEP’s Solar Photovoltaic Test Site at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (65°N) to investigate production from bifacial modules at different orientations, Whitney and Pike analyzed reference cell data collected at an array north of the Arctic Circle in the community of Kotzebue, Alaska, (67°N) to help plan for future expansion.

The analysis demonstrated that bifacial solar PV can be utilized for tilted south-facing as well as vertical east- and west-facing orientations in high latitudes with little difference in annual energy production. These results are important to attract independent power producers who need to maximize return on non-south-facing installations. Future work includes investigating racking solutions to decrease the cost of vertical racking and increase availability, modeling and optimizing different combinations of south-facing and east/west-facing bifacial solar PV arrays relative to Kotzebue community load, and modeling snow drifting to account for backside snow accumulation in windy locations.

The research presented at the conference led to deeper connections with solar experts not only worldwide but also in other Nordic nations.

For more information on this research, please contact Erin Whitney at erin.whitney@alaska.edu.


Chris Pike walks down a street in Milan, Italy, on his way to present at the World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion. Photo by Erin Whitney.