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Metals Production Requirements for Rapid Photovoltaics Deployment

12 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2014 Last revised: 20 Mar 2015

Goksin Kavlak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

James McNerney

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Robert L. Jaffe

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Jessika E. Trancik

Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Santa Fe Institute

Date Written: December 16, 2014

Abstract

If global photovoltaics (PV) deployment grows rapidly, 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 metals 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 metals production for some PV technologies, and outlines an approach to assessing projected metals growth requirements against an ensemble of past growth rates from across the metals 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.

Suggested Citation

Kavlak, Goksin and McNerney, James and Jaffe, Robert L. and Trancik, Jessika E., Metals Production Requirements for Rapid Photovoltaics Deployment (December 16, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2539350 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2539350

Goksin Kavlak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

James McNerney

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Robert L. Jaffe

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Jessika E. Trancik (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Santa Fe Institute

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States

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