Yukon research project looks for best solar panels for North

A project is underway in Yukon to compare four different types of solar panels. The goal is to determine which performs best in the North, where daylight is scarce in winter.

Industry, scientists team up to compare solar panel performance

Bi-facial monocrystalline modules, one of four types of solar technology being compared by Yukon researchers. These panels allow cells to collect light on both sides. (Solvest)

A Yukon solar energy company has teamed up with researchers at Yukon College's Cold Climate Innovation centre to determine what kind of solar technology works best in the North.

"Most of the data that's collected in jurisdictions like California might not fit with the Yukon," said Ben Power, of Whitehorse-based solar company Solvest. He's also the project coordinator for the Whitehorse Solar Study.

The researchers have installed four different types of solar module at the YuKonstruct facility in Whitehorse: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, bi-facial moncrystalline, and thin film. 

Power said the majority of solar panels now used in Yukon are monocrystalline, but the other less-common types may offer advantages in the North. For example, bi-facial panels are able to absorb light on both sides, so in the winter they could capture light reflected off the snow, as well as from above. 

Data will be collected over the next year. The project's website will also track and display the hour-by-hour performance of each type of panel, so Yukoners can see for themselves how the technologies differ.

"This gives them an opportunity to see what specific panel will work for their needs, and maybe even get people who weren't interested in solar, to get them interested," said Ziad Sahid, project manager with Cold Climate Innovation.

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Sahid said a final report should be ready early next year, on the which solar panels perform best in Yukon.