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Supply-Chain Dynamics of Tellurium, Indium, and Gallium Within the Context of PV Module Manufacturing Costs

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6 Author(s)
Michael Woodhouse ; M. Woodhouse is with the Strategic Energy Analysis Center, The National Renewable Energy Lab, Golden, CO 80401 USA (e-mail: ; Alan Goodrich ; Robert Margolis ; Ted L. James
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Given the need for humankind to implement more sustainable energy choices, it is crucial for energy systems such as photovoltaics (PV) to demonstrate success both soon and over the long-term quest. To that end, both the crystalline silicon and thin-film technologies have made, and continue to make, remarkable strides toward providing solutions that are quickly becoming more competitive against the traditional sources for power generation. But, within the thin-film segment of this industry the highest demonstrated sunlight power conversion efficiencies have thus far come from technologies that contain relatively rare constituent elements. These include tellurium in cadmium telluride; and indium and/or gallium in the copper indium diselenide/copper indium gallium diselenide technologies, as well as the III--V families of technologies. In this paper, we show that the current global supply base for these three energy-critical elements is not sufficient for enabling energy-significant levels of deployment, but also show that each of the thin-film PV technologies that we describe has the ability to absorb an increase in the price for each constituent element(s). This ability then leads to the possibility that the supply base for each element can be augmented.

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics  (Volume:PP ,  Issue: 99 )