Assessing the photovoltaic technology landscape: efficiency and energy return on investment (EROI)†
This study builds on previous meta-analyses of photovoltaic (PV) systems to assess the tradeoff between efficiency and energy inputs (i.e. cumulative energy demand, CED) in the energetic performance (as measured by energy return on investment (EROI)) of PV technologies under both high-cost and low-cost balance of system scenarios. This study focuses on three existing technology groups (wafer, thin film, and organic). We find that earlier projections of third-generation (high-efficiency, low-cost), thin-film technologies have not yet emerged, since “third-generation” technologies currently have low-cost but also low-efficiency. However, we also find that the best advances in energetic performance to date come from thin film technology.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2018 Energy and Environmental Science HOT Articles