Introduced in 1976, bifacial PV technology was most widely known for its use on spacecraft, including the International Space Station. Designed in response to the challenges of keeping monofacial modules oriented to the sun, bifacial arrays allow spacecraft more orientation options when orbiting the Earth. As an added bonus, the rear side of bifacial arrays can convert reflective radiation from the atmosphere into extra energy.
Over the past decade, bifacial PV technology has found its place on Earth, incorporated mainly in commercial applications such as awnings, street signs, bus stop shelters, and sound barriers. Recent innovations in optic technology have reduced the amount of silicon needed in a PV module and brought the cost of bifacial technology down to an earthly level, with a cost per watt about 20% higher than comparable single-sided modules. A lower price tag and opportunity for greater energy production has made bifacial PV a practical component for BIPV systems, as well as for use in systems that can earn performance-based incentives and renewable energy credits.