PV in the circular economy, a dynamic framework analyzing technology evolution and reliability impacts

Silvana Ovaitt, Heather Mirletz, Sridhar Seetharaman, Teresa Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rapid, terawatt-scale deployment of photovoltaic (PV) modules is required to decarbonize the energy sector. Despite efficiency and manufacturing improvements, material demand will increase, eventually resulting in waste as deployed modules reach end of life. Circular choices for decommissioned modules could reduce waste and offset virgin materials. We present PV ICE, an open-source python framework using modern reliability data, which tracks module material flows throughout PV life cycles. We provide dynamic baselines capturing PV module and material evolution. PV ICE includes multimodal end of life, circular pathways, and manufacturing losses. We present a validation of the framework and a sensitivity analysis. Results show that manufacturing efficiencies strongly affect material demand, representing >20% of the 9 million tons of waste cumulatively expected by 2050. Reliability and circular pathways represent the best opportunities to reduce waste by 56% while maintaining installed capacity. Shorter-lived modules generate 81% more waste and reduce 2050 capacity by 6%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103488
JournaliScience
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 21 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Energy policy
  • Energy systems
  • Environmental science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'PV in the circular economy, a dynamic framework analyzing technology evolution and reliability impacts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this