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Issue 6, 2015
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Metal production requirements for rapid photovoltaics deployment

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As global photovoltaics (PV) deployment grows, the required input materials need to be supplied at an increasing rate. In this paper, we quantify the effect of PV deployment levels on the scale of metal production. For example, we find that if cadmium telluride {copper indium gallium diselenide} PV accounts for more than 3% {10%} of electricity generation by 2030, the required growth rates for the production of indium and tellurium would exceed historically-observed production growth rates for a large set of metals. In contrast, even if crystalline silicon PV supplies all electricity in 2030, the required silicon production growth rate would fall within the historical range. More generally, this paper highlights possible constraints to the rate of scaling up of metal production for some PV technologies, and outlines an approach to assess projected metal growth requirements against an ensemble of past growth rates from across the metal production sector. The framework developed in this paper may be useful for evaluating the scalability of a wide range of materials and devices, to inform technology development in the laboratory, as well as public and private research investment.

Graphical abstract: Metal production requirements for rapid photovoltaics deployment

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21 Feb 2015
16 Mar 2015
First published
16 Mar 2015

Energy Environ. Sci., 2015,8, 1651-1659
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Metal production requirements for rapid photovoltaics deployment

G. Kavlak, J. McNerney, R. L. Jaffe and J. E. Trancik, Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, 8, 1651
DOI: 10.1039/C5EE00585J

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