By 2030, Germany will be reliant upon far more wind and solar for its energy supply: according to some estimates, the country will need 195 GW of wind (compared to 64 GW currently), and 400 GW of solar (up from 58 GW today). This presupposes vastly increased electrical storage facilities unless other solutions can be found.
This is the background to a new study entitled “Integration of vertical solar power plants into a future German energy system” from the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK Leipzig). It presents the case for using an emerging photovoltaic technology: vertical, bifacial solar arrays for integrating into the agricultural landscape.
"Bifacial solar modules can use solar energy from both sides. Installed in an east-west orientation, most electricity is generated in the morning and evening. This would reduce the need for electricity storage and at the same time keep the amount of land required for electricity generation low," explains Sophia Reker, lead author of the study, as .
The technology is more expensive than other solar systems currently, but because of the increased number of hours it can generate electricity, the need for gap-filling power sources such as gas-fired plants or energy storage is reduced. Furthermore, the vertical solar fences create a new income source for farmers, as well as potentially supporting the growth of certain crops by protecting plants from wind and extreme heat.
Reker and her team used Energyplan software to model Germany’s energy system in 2030 and demonstrate how the use of east-west oriented panels versus conventional south-tilting ones, decreased the need for storage overall. For comparison, in the absence of storage, more than 10 megatonnes of CO2 could be saved every year in Germany by installing 70 – 90 percent of the new solar panels vertically. The study certainly provides new angles for exploration in the field.