We continue to develop resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. See COVID-19 initiatives on Appropedia for more information.

Comparative Life Cycle Analysis of Monocrystalline and Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells

From Appropedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sunhusky.png By Michigan Tech's Open Sustainability Technology Lab.

Wanted: Students to make a distributed future with solar-powered open-source 3-D printing.
Currently looking for PhD or MSC student interested in solar energy policy- apply now!
Contact Dr. Joshua Pearce - Apply here

MOST: Projects & Publications, Methods, Lit. reviews, People, Sponsors, News
Updates: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube


Contribute to this Literature Review Although this page is hosted by MOST it is open edit. Please feel free to add sources and summaries. If you are new to Appropedia, you can start contributing after you create an account or log in if you have an existing account.

This is the literature review and project information page of the Appropedia user Vishal Arya performing a project on Environmental effects of monocrystalline and multicrystalline Silicon-based solar cells as part of the MSE 5490 course by Prof. Dr. Joshua Pearce. It will primarily be updated by this User and if you wish to add to or collaborate on this project, feel free to discuss and add relevant pages and sources to the appropriate sections in chronological order. Thank you.

Lifecycle and Economic Assessment of Standard texturized Czochralski Silicon and Black Multicrystalline Silicon PERC cells[edit]

Source paper[edit]


Industrial Czochralski silicon (Cz-Si) photovoltaic (PV) efficiencies have routinely reached >20% with the passivated emitter rear cell (PERC) design. Nanostructuring silicon (black-Si) by dry-etching decreases surface reflectance, allows diamond saw wafering, enhances metal gettering, and may prevent power conversion efficiency degradation under light exposure. Black-Si allows a potential for >20% PERC cells using cheaper multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si) materials, although dry-etching is widely considered too expensive for industrial application. This study analyzes this economic potential by comparing costs of standard texturized Cz-Si and black mc-Si PERC cells. Manufacturing sequences are divided into steps, and costs per unit power are individually calculated for all different steps. Baseline costs for each step are calculated and a sensitivity analysis run for a theoretical 1 GW/year manufacturing plant, combining data from literature and industry. The results show an increase in the overall cell processing costs between 15.8% and 25.1% due to the combination of black-Si etching and passivation by double-sided atomic layer deposition. Despite this increase, the cost per unit power of the overall PERC cell drops by 10.8%. This is a significant cost saving and thus energy policies are reviewed to overcome challenges to accelerating deployment of black mc-Si PERC across the PV industry.


  • black silicon; economics; manufacturing costs; multicrystalline silicon; passivated emitter rear cell; PERC; silicon solar cells; photovoltaic; photovoltaic manufacturing



  • Energy
  • Solar Energy
  • Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews


Literature Review[edit]

1. What is Lifecycle assessment?[edit]

Economic Input-Output Lifecycle Assessment Life Cycle Analysis

2. Why Lifecycle assessment?[edit]

J. B. Guinée, R. Heijungs, G. Huppes, A. Zamagni, P. Masoni, R. Buonamici, T. Ekvall, T. Rydberg, Life Cycle Assessment: Past, Present, and Future, Environmental Science & Technology 2011 45 (1), 90-96 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es101316v/

3. History of Silicon Cell's Evolution[edit]

M. A. Green, The path to 25% silicon solar cell efficiency: History of silicon cell evolution, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 2009 Volume 17, 183-189 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.892 Open Access


The first silicon solar cell was reported in 1941 and had less than 1% energy conversion efficiency compared to the 25% efficiency milestone reported in this paper. Standardization of past measurements shows there has been a 57% improvement between confirmed results in 1983 and the present result. The features of the cell structure responsible for the most recent performance increase are described and the history of crystalline and multicrystalline silicon cell efficiency evolution is documented.

3. What are the methods of Lifecycle assessment in the PV industry?[edit]

Methodologies and Guidelines on Life Cycle Assessment of Photovoltaic Electricity

4. J. Kim., J. Rivera, T. Y. Meng, B. Laratte, S. Chen, Review of life cycle assessment of nanomaterials in photovoltaics, Solar Energy August 2016 Volume 133, 249-258[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2016.03.060


Photovoltaic (PV) technologies are gaining a share in the renewable energy production market. Recently nanomaterials have been used by researchers to improve the performance and efficiency of PVs. Consideration to the environmental aspects of nanomaterials infused PVs is a growing area of interest. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to investigate the application of LCA to PV technology. Particularly, the authors are interested in scrutinizing the application of LCA to PV systems infused with nanomaterials. In this paper, a literature review was performed to describe and assess the limitations of current research on the usage of life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies to predict the environmental impact of nanomaterials usage on PVs. The approach to this review focuses on two sub-categories: production and/or use of PVs, and end-of-life of PVs. Following this approach the context and progress of LCA is described. Research gaps and opportunities for improved environmental performance throughout the life cycle of nano-infused PVs are identified and discussed. This work provides a basis for the continue analysis of emerging nanomaterials and PV technologies.

5. N. A. Ludin, N. I. Mustafa, Marlia M. Hanafiah, M. A. Ibrahim, M. A. M. Teridi, S. Sepeai, A. Zharim, K. Sopian, Prospects of life cycle assessment of renewable energy from solar photovoltaic technologies: A review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews November 2018 Volume 96, 11-28[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2018.07.048


Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a comprehensive method used to investigate the environmental impacts and energy use of a product throughout its entire life cycle. For solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, LCA studies need to be conducted to address environmental and energy issues and foster the development of PV technologies in a sustainable manner. This paper reviews and analyzes LCA studies on solar PV technologies, such as silicon, thin film, dye-sensitized solar cell, perovskite solar cell, and quantum dot-sensitized solar cell. The PV life cycle assumes a cradle-to-grave mechanism, starting from the extraction of raw materials until the disposal or recycling of the solar PV. Three impact assessment methods in LCA were reviewed and summarized, namely, cumulative energy demand (CED), energy payback time (EPBT), and GHG emission rate, based on data and information published in the literature. LCA results show that mono-crystalline silicon PV technology has the highest energy consumption, longest EPBT, and highest greenhouse gas emissions rate compared with other solar PV technologies.

6. Any records in Efficiency?[edit]

Z. Wang, P. Han, H. Lu, H. Qian, L. Chen, Q. Meng, N. Tang, F. Gao, Y. Jiang, J. Wu, W. Wu, H. Zhu, J. Ji, Z. Shi, A. Sugianto, L. Mai, B. Hallam, S. Wenham, Advanced PERC and PERL production cells with 20.3% record efficiency for standard commercial p‐type silicon wafers, Research in Photovoltaics, 2012 Volume 20 260-268 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.2178


Following intensive research and development, Suntech Power has successfully commercialised its Pluto technology with 0.5 GW annual production capacity, delivering up to 10% performance advantage over conventional screen‐printed cells. The next generation of Pluto involves the development of improved rear surface design based on the design features of passivated emitter and rear locally diffused cells. Cells with an average efficiency over 20% were fabricated on 155 cm2 commercial‐grade p‐type wafers using mass‐manufacturing processes and equipment, with the highest single‐cell efficiency independently confirmed at 20.3%. This is believed to be a record efficiency for this wafer type. Further optimisation work on contact pattern and rear surface passivation suggests the potential for further efficiency increase approaching 23%.

7. M. M. Lunardi, J. P. Alvarez-Gaitan, N. L. Chang, R. Corkish, Life cycle assessment on PERC solar modules, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2018 Volume 187 154-189[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2018.08.004


The screen-printed aluminium back surface field (Al-BSF) technology is the current industry standard process for crystalline silicon solar cells but, due to the search for higher efficiency, much attention has been paid to the passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC), which is gaining significant share in the world market. We undertake an environmental analysis comparing Al-BSF and PERC monocrystalline solar modules. Through the life cycle assessment (LCA) method we calculate the global warming, human toxicity (cancer and non-cancer effects), freshwater eutrophication, freshwater ecotoxicity, abiotic depletion potentials and energy payback time of these technologies considering solar, electronic and upgraded metallurgical grade silicon feedstock. The functional unit considered is 1 kWh of energy delivered over the modules’ lifetime. As a result of this work, we showed that PERC technology generates a slight improvement in the environmental impacts when compared with Al-BSF. The use of electronic and upgraded metallurgical grade silicon results in lower environmental impacts in most cases, compared with the other technologies analysed, based on the assumptions made in this LCA.

8. Some etching processes:[edit]

G. A. Rozgonyi, S. Sivarajan, Silicon: Characterization by Etching, Reference Module in Materials Science and Materials Engineering 2017[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-803581-8.03309-9


Fabrication and research related to silicon devices, circuits and systems relies on the etching and characterization of silicon wafers. The etching process are used for different applications including micromachining, cleaning and defect delineation. Wet chemical etching principles used in silicon semiconductor defect analysis are described. Crystallographic effects and formation of pits during etching are explained. An extensive review of etchants used for a variety of materials is presented. The defects and impurities in silicon are examined by preferential etching and optical microscopy. This article presents the three configurations, namely plan view wafer surfaces, Bevel polish and etch and Cleavage face analysis to illustrate the applicability of defect analysis using etching.

9. F. Schindler, A. Fell, R. Muler, J. Benick, A. Richter, F. Feldman, P. Krenckel, S. Riepe, M. C. Schubert, S. W. Glunz, Towards the efficiency limits of multicrystalline silicon solar cells, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 2018 Volume 185 198-204[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2018.05.006


In this contribution, we present our recent results for high efficiency multicrystalline silicon solar cells. Based on n-type high-performance multicrystalline silicon substrates in combination with the TOPCon solar cell concept featuring a full area passivating back contact and a boron-diffused emitter as well as a plasma-etched black-silicon texture at the front side, a certified conversion efficiency of 22.3% has been achieved, which is currently the world record efficiency for multicrystalline silicon solar cells. A detailed loss analysis of the record solar cell batch discloses the nature of the remaining loss mechanisms, revealing the route for further improvements. We observe an efficiency gap between the multicrystalline and the FZ reference solar cells of ~1%abs. Compared to the FZ reference cells, the mc-Si cells also feature a significantly larger scattering in Voc and Jsc as well as a fill factor loss of ~1.5%abs. We show that the scattering in Jsc correlates with the area fraction of recombination-active structural crystal defects and the scattering in Voc additionally with lateral emitter-induced inhomogeneities. The fill factor loss is attributed to the general presence of strongly recombination-active grain boundaries. A detailed loss analysis of the record mc-Si solar cell shows that the major electrical losses are due to recombination at grain boundaries (0.7%abs) and recombination in the emitter (0.6%abs). By reducing these electrical loss channels, e.g. by an improved crystallization process together with a hydrogenation of the bulk and application of an adapted emitter, we expect to reach efficiencies for mc-Si solar cells in the range of 23%.

10. S. Zhong, B. Liu, Y. Xia, J. Liu, J. Liu, Z. Shen, Z. Xu, C. Li, The study on the properties of black multicrystalline silicon solar cell varying with the diffusion temperature, Energy Procedia 2012 Volume 14 505-511[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2011.12.966


The black multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si) has been successfully produced by plasma immersion ion implantation. The microstructure and the reflectance of the black mc-Si have been investigated by atomic force microscope and spectrophotometer, respectively. Results show that the black mc-Si exhibits a hillock structure with a low reflectance. Besides, with decreasing the diffusion temperature, the external quantum efficiency of the black mc-Si solar cell increases below ∼550 nm wavelength due to reduced surface recombination. The optimal conversion effieciency of the black mc-Si solar cell is 15.50% at the diffusion temperature of 825 °C. Furthermore, it is interesting to find that there are something different between black mc-Si and acid etched mc-Si on the impact of diffusion.

11. S. Werner, E. Lohmuller, P. Saint-Cast, J. Greulich, Key aspects for fabrication of p-type Cz-Si PERC solar cells exceeding 22% conversion efficiency, 33rd European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition 2017[edit]



This paper gives a close-up insight into recent and future developments that are performed with industrial focus at Fraunhofer ISE’s PV-TEC pilot-line to increase the energy conversion efficiency of 6-inch p-type Czochralski-grown silicon (Cz-Si) passivated emitter and rear cells (PERC) to 22% and above. First, the current status of PERC solar cell fabrication allowing for conversion efficiencies up to 21.5% is discussed. Then, we examine four key aspects in detail that need to be considered for optimizing the cells’ front side to boost the cell efficiency to the 22% regime. We demonstrate selective emitter laser doping out of the phosphosilicate glass layer, which is formed by a gas phase phosphorus oxychloride diffusion process. After diffusion and wet-chemical emitter etch back, the field emitter features a very low saturation current density of only 31 fA/cm² (textured, SiNx-passivated). Specific contact resistances of 1 mΩcm2 confirm the low-resistance contacting of the laser-doped surfaces using a commercially available silver screen printing paste. Apart from developing an accurate alignment procedure to match laserstructured and screen-printed layouts, we have also optimized our single-step screen-printing process for finger widths of 38 µm at 16 µm height. Based on simulations we find that efficiencies up to 22.5% are possible when the optimized process routes are integrated into PERC solar cells

12. S. Wasmer, A. Horst, P. Saint-Cast, J. Greulich, Modelling-free efficiency analysis of Passivated Emitter and Rear Silicon Cells, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, 2018 Volume 99 1-8[edit]

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/JPHOTOV.2018.2804333


We introduce an approach to analyze and identify the predominant loss mechanisms in silicon solar cells. For this end, we focus on the potential efficiency gains to be acquired by suppressing each loss mechanism. All the losses are scaled to efficiency gains, leading to quantities similar to the derivative of the efficiency with respect to the loss mechanisms. All impacts are directly comparable to one another since the potential gains are quantified in the same units. The approach is solely based on measured data alone and we take injection-dependent lifetimes correctly into account by measuring at maximum power point like conditions. This approach is exemplarily applied to passivated emitter and rear cells (PERC) based on p-type mono- and multicrystalline silicon wafers. For our examined solar cells, we identify as bottlenecks the optical and recombination properties of the front-side metallization in case of the monocrystalline PERC cell and the reflection at the active area in the multicrystalline case with potential efficiency gains of 1.23%abs and 1.56%abs, respectively.

13. T. Tsoutsos, N. Frantzeskaki, V. Gekas, Environmental impacts from solar energy technologies, Energy Policy, 2005 Volume 33(3) 289-296[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-4215(03)00241-6


Solar energy systems (photovoltaics, solar thermal, solar power) provide significant environmental benefits in comparison to the conventional energy sources, thus contributing, to the sustainable development of human activities. Sometimes however, their wide scale deployment has to face potential negative environmental implications. These potential problems seem to be a strong barrier for a further dissemination of these systems in some consumers.

To cope with these problems this paper presents an overview of an Environmental Impact Assessment. We assess the potential environmental intrusions in order to ameliorate them with new technological innovations and good practices in the future power systems. The analysis provides the potential burdens to the environment, which include—during the construction, the installation and the demolition phases, as well as especially in the case of the central solar technologies—noise and visual intrusion, greenhouse gas emissions, water and soil pollution, energy consumption, labour accidents, impact on archaeological sites or on sensitive ecosystems, negative and positive socio-economic effects.

14. V. M. Fthenakis, H. C. Kim, E. Alsema, Emissions from Photovoltaics Life Cycles', Environmental Science and Technology, 2008 Volume 42(6) 2168-2174[edit]

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es071763q/ https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es071763q


Photovoltaic (PV) technologies have shown remarkable progress recently in terms of annual production capacity and life cycle environmental performances, which necessitate timely updates of environmental indicators. Based on PV production data of 2004–2006, this study presents the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, criteria pollutant emissions, and heavy metal emissions from four types of major commercial PV systems: multicrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, ribbon silicon, and thin-film cadmium telluride. Life-cycle emissions were determined by employing average electricity mixtures in Europe and the United States during the materials and module production for each PV system. Among the current vintage of PV technologies, thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) PV emits the least amount of harmful air emissions as it requires the least amount of energy during the module production. However, the differences in the emissions between different PV technologies are very small in comparison to the emissions from conventional energy technologies that PV could displace. As a part of prospective analysis, the effect of PV breeder was investigated. Overall, all PV technologies generate far less life-cycle air emissions per GWh than conventional fossil-fuel-based electricity generation technologies. At least 89% of air emissions associated with electricity generation could be prevented if electricity from photovoltaics displaces electricity from the grid.

15. G. Timilsina, L. Kurdgelashvili, P. A. Narbel, Solar energy: Markets, economics and policies, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2012 Volume 16(1) 449-465[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2011.08.009


Solar energy has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years due to both technological improvements resulting in cost reductions and government policies supportive of renewable energy development and utilization. This study analyzes the technical, economic and policy aspects of solar energy development and deployment. While the cost of solar energy has declined rapidly in the recent past, it still remains much higher than the cost of conventional energy technologies. Like other renewable energy technologies, solar energy benefits from fiscal and regulatory incentives, including tax credits and exemptions, feed-in-tariff, preferential interest rates, renewable portfolio standards and voluntary green power programs in many countries. The emerging carbon credit markets are expected to provide additional incentives to solar energy deployment; however, the scale of incentives provided by the existing carbon market instruments, such as, the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol is limited. Despite the huge technical potential, the development and large scale deployment of solar energy technologies world-wide still has to overcome a number of technical, financial, regulatory and institutional barriers. The continuation of policy supports might be necessary for several decades to maintain and enhance the growth of solar energy in both developed and developing countries.

16. L. Stamford, A. Azapagic, Environmental Impacts of Photovoltaics: The Effects of Technological Improvements and Transfer of Manufacturing from Europe to China, Energy Technology 2018 Volume 6(6)[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ente.201800037 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ente.201800037


Solar power deployment is expanding rapidly alongside improvements in manufacturing processes and solar technology performance. This expansion has coincided with great cost reductions and a shift in manufacturing to China, but the environmental effects of these developments remain unclear. This study uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to estimate the environmental impacts for silicon‐based photovoltaic (PV) systems installed in two locations—the United Kingdom (UK) and Spain—in the years 2005 and 2015 to assess the changes that have occurred in the past decade. Manufacturing is considered in both Europe and China to analyze the effects of the aforementioned market shift. The results show that technological improvements have reduced the environmental impacts by an average of 45 %, ranging from 29 % (eutrophication) to 80 % (ozone layer depletion); the carbon footprint has been approximately cut in half. However, the shift of manufacturing to China has increased environmental impacts by an average of 9–13 % relative to manufacturing in Europe. Acidification is much higher for Chinese‐made systems, negating all of the technological progress that has been made over the past decade. Thus, the future impacts of PV are highly dependent upon environmental improvements in the Chinese energy mix. Learning rates for environmental impacts are estimated at 6–26 %, thereby leading to expected impact reductions of 8–34 % by the year 2025, which would bring the impacts of Chinese‐made PV systems back down to the levels currently achieved by systems made in Europe.

17. E. Alsema, M. J. de Wild, Environmental Impact of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Module Production MRS Proceedings 2006 Volume 895[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-0895-G03-05 https://www.ecn.nl/publications/PdfFetch.aspx?nr=ECN-RX--06-041


Together with a number of PV companies an extensive effort has been made to collect Life Cycle Inventory data that represents the current status of production technology for crystalline silicon modules. The new data covers all processes from silicon feedstock production to cell and module manufacturing. All commercial wafer technologies are covered, that is multi- and monocrystalline wafers as well as ribbon technology. The presented data should be representative for the technology status in 2004, although for monocrystalline Si crystallisation further improvement of the data quality is recommended. On the basis of the new data it is shown that PV systems on the basis of c-Si technology are in a good position to compete with other energy technologies. Energy Pay-Back Times of 1.7-2.7 yr are found for South-European locations, while life-cycle CO2 emission is in the 30-46 g/kWh range. Clear perspectives exist for further improvements with roughly 40-50%.

18. M. A. Green, The Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC): From conception to mass production, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 2015 Volume 143 190-197[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2015.06.055


Improved solar cell efficiency is the key to ongoing photovoltaic cost reduction, particularly as economies of scale propel module-manufacturing costs towards largely immutable basic material costs and as installation costs become an increasingly large contributor to total system costs. To enable manufacturers to move past the 20% cell energy conversion efficiency figure in production, high-efficiency PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) sequences are being increasingly brought online. Most new photovoltaic manufacturing capacity added in the second half of 2014 was PERC-based, making PERC now the cell technology with second-highest production capacity, with the latest industry roadmap anticipating PERC will become the dominant commercial cell technology by 2020. The first paper describing the PERC cell appeared in 1989, although the structure was conceived several years earlier. The attractive technical features were the reduction of rear surface recombination by a combination of dielectric surface passivation and reduced metal/semiconductor contact area while simultaneously increasing rear surface reflection by use of a dielectrically displaced rear metal reflector. The key issues in the development of this technology and its commercial implementation are described, including a review of recent adoption rates and the way these are likely to evolve in the future.

19. A.F.B. Braga, S.P. Moreira, P.R. Zampieri, J.M.G. Bcchin, P.R. Mei, New processes for the production of solar grade polycrystalline silicon: A review, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 2008 Volume 92(4) 418-424[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2007.10.003


The global energy consumption is predicted to grow dramatically every year. Higher energy prices and public awareness for the global warming problem have opened up the market for solar cells. The generation of electricity with solar cells is considered to be one of the key technologies of the new century. The impressive growth is mainly based on solar cells made from polycrystalline silicon. This paper reviews the recent advances in chemical and metallurgical routes for photovoltaic (PV) silicon production.

20. A. Muller, M. Ghosh, R. Sonnenschein, P. Woditsch, Silicon for photovoltaic applications Materials Science and Engineering:B 2006 Volume 134(2-3) 257-262[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mseb.2006.06.054


Silicon is used in photovoltaics (PV) as the starting material for monocrystalline and multicrystalline wafers as well as for thin film silicon modules. More than 90% of the annual solar cell production is based on crystalline silicon wafers. Therefore, silicon is the most important material for PV today. The challenge which the PV-industry is currently facing is to decrease the manufacturing costs per Wp annually by 5%. Since approximately 70% of the costs for solar cells are caused by wafer costs, there are two main avenues to achieve the cost reduction. One is the development of cheap solar grade Si feedstock material, the other is the development of a cheap ingot manufacturing process for multicrystalline silicon wafers. Therefore, one aim of the PV-industry is to produce sufficiently pure solar grade silicon at low manufacturing costs. Three different routes for the production of solar grade Si are currently considered. Processes like decomposition of trichlorosilane by means of a fluidized bed reactor or decomposition and melting by means of a tube reactor are under development. Monosilane decomposition by means of a free space reactor is also in progress. Every process should be able to achieve the criteria for solar grade Si. Especially, the decomposition of monosilane by means of a free space reactor will be able to meet this challenge as will be explained in more detail. Within the last 10 years multicrystalline (mc) silicon ingots for PV with weights of 150, 240 and 300 kg have been developed and are produced today in the standard production process. The state of the art growth rate of these ingots is 0.5–1.5 cm/h. The two main targets of the PV-industry today are first to increase the ingot weight and second to accelerate the growth of multicrystalline silicon ingots. First, results of the preparation of very large ingots with an ingot weight of 400 kg or ingots grown with growth rates higher than 2 cm/h will be presented.

21. C. del Canizo, G. del Coso, W. C. Sinke, Crystalline silicon solar module technology: Towards the 1 € per watt‐peak goal Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 2008 Volume 17(3)[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.878 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/pip.878


Crystalline silicon solar module manufacturing cost is analysed, from feedstock to final product, regarding the equipment, labour, materials, yield losses and fixed cost contributions. Data provided by European industrial partners are used to describe a reference technology and to obtain its cost breakdown. The analysis of the main cost drivers allows to define new generation technologies suitable to reduce module cost towards the short‐term goal of 1 € per watt‐peak. This goal roughly corresponds with the cost level needed to enable ‘grid parity’: the situation solar electricity becomes competitive with retail electricity. The new technologies are described and their costs are analysed. Cost reductions due to scale effects in production are also assessed for next generation manufacturing plants with capacities in the range of several hundreds of megawatts to one gigawatt of module power per year, which are to come in the near future. The combined effects of technology development and economies of scale bring the direct manufacturing costs of wafer‐based crystalline silicon solar modules down into the range of 0·9–1·3 € per watt‐peak, according to current insights and information (the range results from differences between technologies as well as from uncertainties per technology). Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

22. D. Sarti, R. Einhaus, Silicon feedstock for the multi-crystalline photovoltaic industry Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 2002 Volume 72 27-40[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0927-0248(01)00147-7


During the last 5 years the PV industry continues to experience a strong economic growth between 15% and 30% per year. Multi-crystalline silicon became the preferred material for PV production with a share of more than 50% of the shipped PV modules world-wide. For the first time, the available quantity of the classical silicon feedstock sources for the PV industry—electronic grade silicon rejects from the silicon and microelectronics industry—is close to be not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the PV industry. From this situation arises the need to develop short- and long-term solutions to guarantee a sustainable supply of the PV industry with suitable silicon feedstock at acceptable costs. This paper presents a possible route for short- and long-term solutions to provide solar grade (SoG) silicon feedstock for the PV industry. On a short-term basis a twofold solution is proposed: (i) reduction of silicon consumption by reducing the wafer thickness and the introduction of recycling scenarios for silicon waste produced by the PV industry, (ii) introduction of very low-resistivity silicon (0.1 Ω cm). On long term, a route towards the establishment of a SoG silicon production based on widely available metallurgical grade silicon is proposed. This route includes the development of suitable purification techniques. First results that allowed to lower the impurity tolerances for SoG silicon are presented. The introduction of silicon feedstock with higher impurity concentrations which show a tendency to interact with crystal defects and lead to a degradation of the material performance also requires passivation concepts to achieve highly performing solar cells.

23. D. Kumar, Economic Assessment of Photovoltaic Energy Production Prospects in India Procedia Earth and Planetary Science 2015 Volume 1 425-436[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeps.2015.06.042 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878522015000934/pdf?md5=25df09e754ab52c1c74a238deb174ec8&pid=1-s2.0-S1878522015000934-main.pdf


Over the past decade, the electricity generation landscape around the globe has changed severely with rapid multiplying of renewable generation. The 21st century has numerous points of power injection as well as millions of points of consumption. The power system in India has coarsely folded in the last decade and similarly in the previous decade. Alternative sources of energy are being sought after in the world today as the availability of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources are declining. Photovoltaic energy offers an encouraging solution to this search as it is a less polluting renewable energy resource. The proposed work focuses on the Economic Assessment models while estimates the economic impacts of constructing and operating power generation at the local and state levels. The work considers many aspects of the problem including the energy and economic ones which is of basic importance for evaluating real outcomes of investments. The result of the assessment screens the economic feasibility of photovoltaic systems and the consequent production of electricity, recovering costs of installation and maintenance of the system. Additional economic aspects includes evaluation of costs of the PV systems (investment costs and costs for maintenance, servicing and insurance against damage) and benefits due to the gains for the avoided bill costs, the incentives and the sold electricity; analysis of cash flows; estimation of the energy cover factor related to the results of the economic analysis; sensitivity analysis for the most significant physical and economic parameter.

24. A. Ferreira, S. S. Kunh, K. C. Fagnani, T. A. De Souza, C. Tonezer, G. R. D. Santos, C. H. Coimbra-Araujo, Economic overview of the use and production of photovoltaic solar energy in brazil Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 2018 Volume 81(1) 181-191[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2017.06.102


The technology of photovoltaic power generation has been increasingly regarded in many countries as an alternative to reduce the environmental impacts associated with climate changes and dependence on fossil fuels. Countries such as Germany and other European countries have been developed specific regulatory mechanisms to encourage its use either by government programs or by financial and/or tax incentives. In Brazil, despite the large existing solar potential, the encouragement to technology is still incipient. This paper aims to demonstrate the key aspects of the evolution of regulatory incentives to use photovoltaic solar energy in Brazil and present the technologies and characteristics of photovoltaic power generation.

25. A. C. Goodrich, D. M. Powell, T. L. James, M. Woodhouse and T. Buonassisi, Assessing the drivers of regional trends in solar photovoltaic manufacturing Energy & Environmental Science 2013 Volume 6 2811-2821[edit]



The photovoltaic (PV) industry has grown rapidly as a source of energy and economic activity. Since 2008, the average manufacturer-sale price of PV modules has declined by over a factor of two, coinciding with a significant increase in the scale of manufacturing in China. Using a bottom-up model for wafer-based silicon PV, we examine both historical and future factory-location decisions from the perspective of a multinational corporation. Our model calculates the cost of PV manufacturing with process step resolution, while considering the impact of corporate financing and operations with a calculation of the minimum selling price that provides an adequate rate of return. We quantify the conditions of China's historical PV price advantage, examine if these conditions can be reproduced elsewhere, and evaluate the role of innovative technology in altering regional competitive advantage. We find that the historical price advantage of a China-based factory relative to a U.S.-based factory is not driven by country-specific advantages, but instead by scale and supply-chain development. Looking forward, we calculate that technology innovations may result in effectively equivalent minimum sustainable manufacturing prices for the two locations. In this long-run scenario, the relative share of module shipping costs, as well as other factors, may promote regionalization of module-manufacturing operations to cost-effectively address local market demand. Our findings highlight the role of innovation, importance of manufacturing scale, and opportunity for global collaboration to increase the installed capacity of PV worldwide.

26. D. Yue, F. You, S. B. Darling, Domestic and overseas manufacturing scenarios of silicon-based photovoltaics: Life cycle energy and environmental comparative analysis, Solar Energy, 2014, Volume 105, 669-678[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2014.04.008


While life cycle assessment (LCA) has been recognized as an invaluable tool to assess the energy and environmental profiles of a photovoltaic (PV) system, current LCA studies are limited to Europe and North America. However, today most PV modules are outsourced to and manufactured in non-OECD countries (e.g., China), which have a substantially different degree of industrialization and environmental restriction. To investigate this issue, we perform a comparative LCA between domestic and overseas manufacturing scenarios illustrated by three kinds of silicon-based PV technologies, namely mono-crystalline silicon, multi-crystalline silicon and ribbon silicon. We take into account geographic diversity by utilizing localized inventory data for processes and materials. The energy payback time, energy return on investment and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for both scenarios are calculated and analyzed. Compared to the domestic manufacturing scenario, the energy use efficiency is generally 30% lower and the carbon footprint is almost doubled in the overseas manufacturing scenario. Moreover, based on the LCA results, we propose a break-even carbon tariff model for the international trade of silicon-based PV modules, indicating an appropriate carbon tariff in the range of €105–€129/ton CO2.

27. G. A. Keoleian, G. McD Lewis,Application of life-cycle energy analysis to photovoltaic module design, Progress in Photovoltaics, 1997, Volume 5(4), 287-300[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-159X(199707/08)5:4<287::AID-PIP169>3.0.CO;2-S



This paper highlights results from a collaborative life‐cycle design project between the University of Michigan, the US Environment Protection Agency and United Solar Systems Corporation. Energy analysis is a critical planning and design tool for photovoltaic (PV) modules. A set of model equations for evaluating the life‐cycle energy performance of PV systems and other electricity‐generating systems are presented. The total PV life‐cycle, encompassing material production, manufacturing and assembly, use and end‐of‐life management, was investigated.

Three metrics—energy payback time, electricity production efficiency and life‐cycle conversion efficiency—were defined for PV modules with and without balance‐of‐system (BOS) components. These metrics were evaluated for a United Solar UPM‐880 amorphous silicon PV module based on average insolation in Detroit, Boulder and Phoenix. Based on these metrics, a minimum condition for assessing the sustainability of electricity‐generating systems was proposed and discussed. The life‐cycle energy analysis indicated that the aluminum frame is responsible for a significant fraction of the energy invested in the UPM‐880 module.

28. V. M. Fthenakis, H. C. Kim, Photovoltaics: Life-cycle analyses, Solar Energy, 2011, Volume 85(8), 1609-1628[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2009.10.002 https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1891/62ebb29561bd28dacc5c1898a168441754d5.pdf


Life-cycle analysis is an invaluable tool for investigating the environmental profile of a product or technology from cradle to grave. Such life-cycle analyses of energy technologies are essential, especially as material and energy flows are often interwoven, and divergent emissions into the environment may occur at different life-cycle-stages. This approach is well exemplified by our description of material and energy flows in four commercial PV technologies, i.e., mono-crystalline silicon, multi-crystalline silicon, ribbon-silicon, and cadmium telluride. The same life-cycle approach is applied to the balance of system that supports flat, fixed PV modules during operation. We also discuss the life-cycle environmental metrics for a concentration PV system with a tracker and lenses to capture more sunlight per cell area than the flat, fixed system but requires large auxiliary components. Select life-cycle risk indicators for PV, i.e., fatalities, injures, and maximum consequences are evaluated in a comparative context with other electricity-generation pathways.

29. S. Pacca, D. Sivaraman, G. A. Keoleian, Parameters affecting the life cycle performance of PV technologies and systems, Energy Policy, 2007, Volume 35(6), 3316-3326[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2006.10.003


This paper assesses modeling parameters that affect the environmental performance of two state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation technologies: the PVL136 thin film laminates and the KC120 multi-crystalline modules. We selected three metrics to assess the modules’ environmental performance, which are part of an actual 33 kW installation in Ann Arbor, MI. The net energy ratio (NER), the energy pay back time (E-PBT), and the CO2 emissions are calculated using process based LCA methods. The results reveal some of the parameters, such as the level of solar radiation, the position of the modules, the modules’ manufacturing energy intensity and its corresponding fuel mix, and the solar radiation conversion efficiency of the modules, which affect the final analytical results. A sensitivity analysis shows the effect of selected parameters on the final results. For the baseline scenario, the E-PBT for the PVL136 and KC120 are 3.2 and 7.5 years, respectively. When expected future conversion efficiencies are tested, the E-PBT is 1.6 and 5.7 years for the PVL136 and the KC120, respectively. Based on the US fuel mix, the CO2 emissions for the PVL136 and the KC120 are 34.3 and 72.4 g of CO2/kW h, respectively. The most effective way to improve the modules’ environmental performance is to reduce the energy input in the manufacturing phase of the modules, provided that other parameters remain constant. Consequently, the use of PV as an electricity source during PV manufacturing is also assessed. The NER of the supplier PV is key for the performance of this scheme. The results show that the NER based on a PV system can be 3.7 times higher than the NER based on electricity supplied by the traditional grid mix, and the CO2 emissions can be reduced by 80%.

30. V. Baharwani, N. Meena, A. Dubey, U. Brighu, J. Mathur, Life Cycle Analysis of Solar PV System: A Review, International Journal of Environmental Research and Development, 2014, Volume 4, 183-190[edit]



Electricity generation is a key source to global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and their related environmental impact. Sustainable development requires methods and tools to measure the environmental impacts of human activities for various products such as goods, services, etc. Life-cycle analysis is a valuable tool for evaluating the environmental profile of a product or technology from cradle to grave. Such life-cycle analysis of energy technologies are essential, especially as material and energy flows are often intermingled, and divergent emissions into the environment may occur at different life-cycle-stages. Photovoltaic system is a technology for the production of electricity from renewable sources that is rapidly growing thanks to its potential to reduce the energy consumption from traditional sources and to decrease the air pollution. During the operational phase, there are no emissions and the only input is solar power. However, it should be noted that, considering the entire life cycle of a plant, photovoltaic systems, like any other means of electricity production, give rise to emissions that focus especially in the manufacturing stage and installation of components. In this study, the environmental load of photovoltaic power generation system (PV) during its life cycle by energy payback time (EPT) and Greenhouse Gas emissions are reviewed through LCA study to the state of art of the photovoltaic technologies.

31. R. Garcia-Valverde, J.A. Cherni, A. Urbina, Life cycle analysis of organic photovolatic technologies,Progress in Photovoltaics, 2010, Volume 18(7), 535-558[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.967



Organic solar cells, both in the hybrid dye sensitized technology and in the full organic polymeric technology, are a promising alternative that could supply solar electricity at a cost much lower than other more conventional inorganic photovoltaic technologies. This paper presents a life cycle analysis of the laboratory production of a typical bulk heterojunction organic solar cell and compares this result with those obtained for the industrial production of other photovoltaic technologies. Also a detailed material inventory from raw materials to final photovoltaic module is presented, allowing us to identify potential bottlenecks in a future supply chain for a large industrial output. Even at this initial stage of laboratory production, the energy payback time and CO2 emission factor for the organic photovoltaic technology is of the same order of other inorganic photovoltaic technologies, demonstrating that there is plenty of room for improvement if the fabrication procedure is optimized and scaled up to an industrial process.

32. C. J. Mulligan, M. Wilson, G. Bryant, B. Vaughan, X. Zhou, W. J. Belcher, P. C. Dastoor,A projection of commercial-scale organic photovoltaic module costs, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2014, Volume 120 (A), 9-17[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2013.07.041


Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) are a recent technology that has gained much attention as a potential low cost power source. Despite this promise, there is a lack of published studies that address the likely cost of commercial-scale OPV modules. In this work, an engineering study estimate has been performed to determine the projected cost of mass-manufactured OPV modules. The materials, production capital and operating costs have been calculated and sensitivity analyses performed to determine the parameters of greatest economic influence. Significantly, the model includes a calculation of the costs required to establish bulk manufacturing of the current high cost speciality materials components, encompassing synthesis and associated chemical plant design. The economic modelling reveals that the calculated mass-manufactured OPV module costs are considerably lower than current literature estimates, with OPV modules costed at $7.85 per square metre with an uncertainty of±30%. Total module cost was found to be most sensitive to the plastic substrate prices, while the production rate did not have a significant impact on module cost for rates above~50 m2/min. The results highlight the future cost potential of OPV technology and can be used to assist with scale-up planning.

33. M. Oliver, T. Jackson, The evolution of economic and environmental cost for crystalline silicon photovoltaics, Energy Policy, 2000, Volume 28(14), 1011-1021[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-4215(00)00088-4


Photovoltaics present a difficult tradeoff to policy makers: on the one hand, they offer clear resource and environmental advantages over fossil-fuel-based electricity generation; on the other hand, they remain more expensive than conventional technology in most grid-connected applications. However, the dynamics of this tradeoff are changing as the technology develops. This paper presents a series of sensitivity analyses designed to illustrate the influence of various performance-related factors on both economic cost and environmental performance of building integrated photovoltaics. The authors then discuss a range of factors that are likely to stimulate further improvements and estimate the impact of these improvements over time on the combined carbon abatement cost of photovoltaics. If these trends continue, and there is a number of reasons to suggest that they will, BiPV cladding systems could be a cost effective means of abating CO2 emissions in European locations by 2010.

34. M. Bazilian, I. Onyeji, M. Liebreich, I. MacGill, J. Chase, J. Shah, D. Gielen, D. Arent, D. Landfear, S. Zhengrong, Re-considering the economics of photovoltaic power, Renewable Energy, 2013, Volume 53, 329-339[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2012.11.029


This paper briefly considers the recent dramatic reductions in the underlying costs and market prices of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and their implications for decision-makers. In many cases, current PV costs and the associated market and technological shifts witnessed in the industry have not been fully noted by decision-makers. The perception persists that PV is prohibitively expensive, and still has not reached ‘competitiveness’. The authors find that the commonly used analytical comparators for PV vis a vis other power generation options may add further confusion. In order to help dispel existing misconceptions, some level of transparency is provided on the assumptions, inputs and parameters in calculations relating to the economics of PV. The paper is aimed at informing policy makers, utility decision-makers, investors and advisory services, in particular in high-growth developing countries, as they weigh the suite of power generation options available to them.

35. G. F. Nemet, Beyond the learning curve: factors influencing cost reductions in photovoltaics, Energy Policy, 2006, Volume 34(17), 3218-3232[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2005.06.020


The extent and timing of cost-reducing improvements in low-carbon energy systems are important sources of uncertainty in future levels of greenhouse-gas emissions. Models that assess the costs of climate change mitigation policy, and energy policy in general, rely heavily on learning curves to include technology dynamics. Historically, no energy technology has changed more dramatically than photovoltaics (PV), the cost of which has declined by a factor of nearly 100 since the 1950s. Which changes were most important in accounting for the cost reductions that have occurred over the past three decades? Are these results consistent with the notion that learning from experience drove technical change? In this paper, empirical data are assembled to populate a simple model identifying the most important factors affecting the cost of PV. The results indicate that learning from experience, the theoretical mechanism used to explain learning curves, only weakly explains change in the most important factors—plant size, module efficiency, and the cost of silicon. Ways in which the consideration of a broader set of influences, such as technical barriers, industry structure, and characteristics of demand, might be used to inform energy technology policy are discussed.

36. R. Fu, T. L. James, M. Woodhouse, Economic Measurements of Polysilicon for the Photovoltaic Industry: Market Competition and Manufacturing Competitiveness, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, 2015, Volume 5(2), 515-524[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/JPHOTOV.2014.2388076


Several economic metrics are presented for polysilicon in the solar photovoltaics (PV) industry. The overall level of market competition through exploration of the Herfindahl-Hirschman index and consolidation for the current polysilicon industry is quantified. In addition, for several international manufacturing locations, the most recent results in bottoms-up manufacturing cost and price modeling are shown for Siemens hydrochlorination (solar-grade), Siemens hyperpure, and fluidized bed reactor production of polysilicon. Finally, the entry barrier, which is defined as the upfront capital requirements to become a competitively sized facility, is quantified for today's polysilicon industry.

37. M. Papaneau,An economic perspective on experience curves and dynamic economies in renewable energy technologies, Energy Policy, 2006, Volume 34(4), 422-432[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2004.06.008


This paper analyzes dynamic economies in renewable energy technologies. The paper has two contributions. The first is to test the robustness of experience in solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and wind energy to the addition of an explicit time trend, which has been done in experience studies for other industries, but not for renewable energy technologies. Estimation is carried out on the assumption that cumulative capacity, industry production, average firm production, and electricity generation affect experience and thus the fall in price. The second contribution is to test the impact of R&D on price reduction. In general cumulative experience is found to be highly statistically significant when estimated alone, and highly statistically insignificant when time is added to the model. The effect of R&D is small and statistically significant in solar photovoltaic technology and statistically insignificant in solar thermal and wind technologies.

38. J-B Lesourd, Solar photovoltaic systems: the economics of a renewable energy resource, Environmental Modelling and Software, 2001, Volume 16(2), 147-156[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1364-8152(00)00078-5


This paper analyses some emerging aspects of the economics of grid-connected photovoltaic systems. While the 1997 cost of photovoltaic systems is estimated as 5.5 US$/Wp, a 1997 cost estimate for photovoltaic grid-connected electricity is (deflated terms) 0.25 or (nominal terms) 0.29 US$/kWh, for US sunbelt conditions, prevailing US capital market conditions, and an economic lifetime of 20 years. This compares to about 0.10 US$/kWh for conventional electricity production. Other estimates for are, respectively, in deflated and nominal terms and in US$/kWh, 0.30 and 0.35 (average US conditions), 0.29 and 0.33 (average Western European conditions), 0.23 and 0.27 (sunbelt European conditions), and 0.33 and 0.34 (average Japanese conditions). Assuming a longer system lifetime (30 years) lowers these costs by 15–20%. Dividing costs by 2, a reasonable future possibility, would bring them close to competitiveness. Further cost decreases, although possible, are still uncertain. The structure and future evolution of the world photovoltaic industry are also discussed.

39. D. M. Powell, M. T. Winkler, H. J. Choi, C. B. Simmons, D. B. Needleman, T. Buonassisi, Crystalline silicon photovoltaics: a cost analysis framework for determining technology pathways to reach baseload electricity costs, Energy and Environmental Science, 2012, Volume 5, 5874-5883[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1039/C2EE03489A


Crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaics are robust, manufacturable, and Earth-abundant. However, barriers exist for c-Si modules to reach US$0.50–0.75/Wp fabrication costs necessary for subsidy-free utility-scale adoption. We evaluate the potential of c-Si photovoltaics to reach this goal by developing a bottom-up cost model for c-Si wafer, cell, and module manufacturing; performing a sensitivity analysis to determine research domains that provide the greatest impact on cost; and evaluating the cost-reduction potential of line-of-sight manufacturing innovation and scale, as well as advanced technology innovation. We identify research domains with large cost reduction potential, including improving efficiencies, improving silicon utilization, and streamlining manufacturing processes and equipment, and briefly review ongoing research and development activities that impact these research domains. We conclude that multiple technology pathways exist to enable US$0.50/Wp module manufacturing in the United States with silicon absorbers. More broadly, this work presents a user-targeted research and development framework that prioritizes research needs based on market impact.

40. J. Kalowekamo, E. Baker, Estimating the manufacturing cost of purely organic solar cells, Solar Energy, 2009, Volume 83(8), 1224-1231[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2009.02.003


In this paper we estimate the manufacturing cost of purely organic solar cells. We find a very large range since the technology is still very young. We estimate that the manufacturing cost for purely organic solar cells will range between $50 and $140/m2. Under the assumption of 5% efficiency, this leads to a module cost of between $1.00 and $2.83/Wp. Under the assumption of a 5-year lifetime, this leads to a levelized cost of electricity (LEC) of between 49¢ and 85¢/kWh. In order to achieve a more competitive COE of about 7¢/kWh, we would need to increase efficiency to 15% and lifetime to between 15–20 years.

41. D. M. Powell, M. T. Winkler, A. Goodrich, T. Buonassisi, Modeling the Cost and Minimum Sustainable Price of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Manufacturing in the United States, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics, 2013, Volume 3(2), 662-668[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/JPHOTOV.2012.2230056


We extend our cost model to assess minimum sustainable prices of crystalline silicon wafer, cell, and module manufacturing in the United States. We investigate the cost and price structures of current multicrystalline silicon technology and consider the introduction of line-of-sight innovations currently on the industry roadmap, as well as advanced technologies currently at an earlier stage of development. We benchmark the capability of these concepts to reach the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot module price target and perform a sensitivity analysis to determine high-impact research domains that have the greatest impact on price. This exercise highlights advanced c-Si manufacturing concepts with significant cost reduction potential and provides insight into strategies that could greatly reduce module prices in a financially sustainable manner.

42. M. Woodhouse, A. Goodrich, A Manufacturing Cost Analysis Relevant to Single- and Dual-Junction Photovoltaic Cells Fabricated with III-Vs and III-Vs Grown on Czochralski Silicon, NREL, 2013, Publication Number: NREL/PR-6A20-60126[edit]


43. Z. Song, C. L. McElvany, A. B. Phillips, I. Celik, P. W. Krantz, S. C. Watthage, G. K. Liyanage, D. Apul, M. J. Heben, A technoeconomic analysis of perovskite solar module manufacturing with low-cost materials and techniques, Energy and Environmental Science, 2017, Volume 10, 1297-1305[edit]

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C7EE00757D


After rapid progress in the past few years, emerging solar cells based on metal halide perovskites have become a potential candidate to rival and even outperform crystalline silicon photovoltaics (PV) in the marketplace. With high material utilization, easy manufacturing processes, and high power conversion efficiencies >20%, many experts anticipate that perovskite solar cells (PSCs) will be one of the cheapest PV technologies in the future. Here we evaluate the economic potential of PSCs by developing a bottom-up cost model for perovskite PV modules fabricated using feasible low-cost materials and processes. We calculate the direct manufacturing cost ($31.7 per m2) and the minimum sustainable price (MSP, $0.41 per Wp) for a standard perovskite module manufactured in the United States. Such modules, operating at 16% photoconversion efficiency in a 30-year, unsubsidized, utility-level power plant, would produce electricity at levelized cost of energy (LCOE) values ranging from 4.93 to 7.90 ¢ per kW per h. We discuss limitations in comparing calculated MSPs to actual market prices, determine the effect of module lifetime, examine the effects of alternative materials and constructions, and indicate avenues to further reduce the MSP and LCOE values. The analysis shows that PSCs can emerge as a cost leader in PV power generation if critical remaining issues can be resolved.

44. K. Zweibel, Issues in thin film PV manufacturing cost reduction, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 1999, Volume 59(1-2), 1-18[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0927-0248(99)00019-7


Thin film PV technologies face a number of hurdles as they advance towards low-cost goals that are competitive with traditional sources of electricity. The US Department of Energy cost goal for thin films is about $0.33/Wp, which is based on a module efficiency goal of about 15% and module manufacturing costs of about $50/m2. This paper investigates the issues associated with achieving the $50/m2 goal based on opportunities for manufacturing cost reductions. Key areas such as capital costs, deposition rates, layer thickness, materials costs, yields, substrates, and front and back end costs will be examined. Several prior studies support the potential of thin films to reach $50/m2. This paper will examine the necessary process research improvements needed in amorphous silicon, copper indium diselenide, cadmium telluride, and experimental thin film silicon PV technologies to reach this ambitious goal. One major conclusion is that materials costs must be reduced because they will dominate in mature technologies. Another is that module efficiency could be the overriding parameter if different thin films each optimize their manufacturing to a similar level.

45. R. Contreras-Lisperguer, E. Munoz-Ceron, J. Aguilera, J. de la Casa, Cradle-to-cradle approach in the life cycle of silicon solar photovoltaic panels, Journal of Cleaner Production, 2017, Volume 168, 51-59[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.08.206


The penetration rates of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology have growth exponentially and are expected to continue growing. Consequently, in the medium term, the volume of PV panels to be decommissioned will also increase, thus creating a massive amount of waste with resulting negative environmental implications.

Among the methodologies that tackle the challenges for reducing the use of non-renewable abiotic resources and the level of waste, the novel cradle-to-cradle (C2C) manufacturing approach states that we can maintain our current levels of economic growth without damaging the environment and promoting a shift in the concept of re-cycling.

While the possibility of applying C2C principles within a closed-loop material cycle (CLMC) looks promising, it still requires further research and improvement, particularly to support robust business decisions and policy development. This paper first presents the main challenges and opportunities for C2C implementation for silicon-based solar PV modules, given the complexity of creating and maintaining a true CLMC system. It then calls for urgent development of a credible scientific framework for system modelling, based on thermodynamics and mathematics, in order to truly move from re-cycling to up-cycling. As an initial step, a conceptual model and a suitable time-space scale for the required C2C-CLMC system is proposed.

46. V. M. Fthenakis, Life Cycle Analysis of Photovoltaics: Strategic Technology Assessment, A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Energy Systems, 2018, 427-442[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811479-7.00022-1


The photovoltaic (PV) market is experiencing vigorous growth, with prices dropping rapidly. This growth has in large part been possible through public support, deserved for its promise to produce electricity at low cost to the environment. It is therefore important to monitor and minimize environmental impacts associated with PV technologies as well to project improvements in conversion efficiencies and material and energy utilization that would better the environmental profile of PV technologies. This chapter discusses both the current environmental status of commercial PV technologies and the potential for future improvements of their environmental profile.

47. M. Vellini, M. Gambini, V. Prattella, Environmental impacts of PV technology throughout the life cycle: Importance of the end-of-life management for Si-panels and CdTe-panels, Energy, 2017, Volume 138, 1099-1111[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2017.07.031


This study quantitatively assesses the life-cycle environmental impacts of 1 mˆ2 of Si and CdTe Photovoltaic module. GaBi LCA software is applied to establish the LCA model and to perform the calculation, and CML 2001 baseline method is chosen to quantify the environmental impacts. The comparative analysis shows that CdTe technology requires less energy and material resources than Si technology resulting in a reduction of all impacts related to polluting emissions and to material resources consumption. Instead, the human, aquatic and terrestrial toxicity environmental impacts are particularly high for the CdTe panels because they are made of toxic materials. The study highlights the importance of the recycling process at the end of life which involves the recovering of raw materials, a decrease of energy demand and a reduction of emissions of materials that would be harmful to the environment if discharged in landfills. The analysis finally shows the sustainability of these photovoltaic systems through the evaluation of EPBT indicator. The energy pay-back time was calculated carrying out a parametric analysis, varying the main variables, and providing a framework as detailed as possible of the results obtained.

48. C. E. L. Latunussa, F. Ardente, G. A. Blengini, L. Mancini, Life Cycle Assessment of an innovative recycling process for crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2016, Volume 156, 101-111[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2016.03.020


Lifecycle impacts of photovoltaic (PV) plants have been largely explored in several studies. However, the end-of-life phase has been generally excluded or neglected from these analyses, mainly because of the low amount of panels that reached the disposal yet and the lack of data about their end of life. It is expected that the disposal of PV panels will become a relevant environmental issue in the next decades. This article illustrates and analyses an innovative process for the recycling of silicon PV panel. The process is based on a sequence of physical (mechanical and thermal) treatments followed by acid leaching and electrolysis. The Life Cycle Assessment methodology has been applied to account for the environmental impacts of the process. Environmental benefits (i.e. credits) due to the potential productions of secondary raw materials have been intentionally excluded, as the focus is on the recycling process. The article provides transparent and disaggregated information on the end-of-life stage of silicon PV panel, which could be useful for other LCA practitioners for future assessment of PV technologies. The study highlights that the impacts are concentrated on the incineration of the panel׳s encapsulation layers, followed by the treatments to recover silicon metal, silver, copper, aluminium. For example around 20% of the global warming potential impact is due to the incineration of the sandwich layer and 30% to the post-incineration treatments. Transport is also relevant for several impact categories, ranging from a minimum of about 10% (for the freshwater eutrophication) up to 80% (for the Abiotic Depletion Potential – minerals).

49. M. P. Tsang, G. W. Sonnemann, D. M. Bassani, Life-cycle assessment of cradle-to-grave opportunities and environmental impacts of organic photovoltaic solar panels compared to conventional technologies, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2016, Volume 156, 37-48[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2016.04.024


Recent developments in organic photovoltaic technology demonstrate the possibility of easily printable, light, thin, and flexible solar panels with fast manufacturing times. Prior life-cycle assessment studies show potential for organic photovoltaics to lower the environmental footprint and shorten the energy and carbon payback times compared to conventional silicon during the production of a solar cell on a watt-for-watt basis. This study extends such analyses beyond the manufacturing stage and evaluates the prospective cradle-to-grave life-cycle impacts of organic photovoltaics compared with conventional ones. Two systems (solar rooftop array and portable solar charger) were chosen to illustrate how different product integrations, duration of use and disposal routes influence potential environmental benefits of organic photovoltaics while informing researchers on the prospects for continued development and scaling-up this technology. The results of the life-cycle assessment showed that environmental benefits for organic photovoltaics extend beyond the manufacture of the photovoltaic panels, with baseline cradle-to-grave impacts for both long-term uses (rooftop arrays) and short-term uses (portable chargers) on average 55% and 70% lower than silicon devices, respectively. These results demonstrate that further reductions can be leveraged by integrating organic photovoltaics into simpler devices that take advantage of their flexibility and ability to be used in applications that are less constrained by conventional technology. For example, organic photovoltaic charging units showed life-cycle impacts more than 39–89% lower than silicon along with energy and carbon payback times as short as 220 and 118 days, respectively.

50. N. Kittner, S. H. Gheewala, R. M. Kamens, An environmental life cycle comparison of single-crystalline and amorphous-silicon thin-film photovoltaic systems in Thailand, Energy for Sustainable Development, 2013, Volume 17(6), 605-614[edit]

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.esd.2013.09.003


Solar Photovoltaic (PV) technologies are gaining influence as a potential supplemental electricity source in Thailand. This study assesses the environmental and economic benefits of two types of photovoltaic technologies — single-crystalline and amorphous silicon thin-film systems. The advantages of building-integrated PV are also analyzed. The assessment considers embodied energy, CO2 payback, and economic investment. Solar PV currently provides less than 1% of Thailand's electricity; however the government aims to generate 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2021. Different policy scenarios affecting life cycle performance, including manufacturing processes and geographic differences are explored. The results indicate that solar electricity can serve as a promising, untapped renewable energy source for Thailand to pursue in its efforts to wean away from imported natural gas and other fossil fuel energy sources. Amorphous silicon thin-film panels yield a greater net environmental benefit than single-crystalline technologies. Even if panels are made in a high electricity emissions country, like China, PV reduces GHG emissions. A sustainable grid-connected photovoltaic system would combine appropriate solar photovoltaic technologies. An economic comparison is included to contextualize the findings. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides an invaluable tool for policymakers to evaluate such opportunities.

51. J. Lee, N. Lakshminarayan, S .K. Dhungel, K. Kim, J. Yi, Optimization of fabrication process of high-efficiency and low-cost crystalline silicon solar cell for industrial applications, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2009, Volume 93(2), 256-261[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2008.10.013


The process conditions for a high-efficiency and low cost crystalline silicon solar cell were optimized. Novel approaches such as wafer cleaning and saw -damage removal using 0.5 wt% of 2,4,6-trichloro-1,3,5-triazine, silicon surface texturing with optimized pyramid heights (∼5 μm), and a third step of drive-in after phosphosilicate glass (PSG) removal followed by oxide removal were investigated. A simple method of chemical etching adopted for edge isolation was optimized with edge etching of 5–10 μm, without any penetration of chemicals between the stacked wafers. The conversion efficiency, open-circuit voltage, short-circuit current, and fill factor of the cell fabricated with the optimized process were a maximum of 17.12%, 618.4 mV, 5.32 A, and 77% under AM1.5 conditions, respectively.

52. E. Alsema, M. J. de Wild, Environmental Impact of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Module Production, MRS Proceedings, 2005, Volume 895[edit]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-0895-G03-05


Together with a number of PV companies an extensive effort has been made to collect Life Cycle Inventory data that represents the current status of production technology for crystalline silicon modules. The new data covers all processes from silicon feedstock production to cell and module manufacturing. All commercial wafer technologies are covered, that is multi- and monocrystalline wafers as well as ribbon technology. The presented data should be representative for the technology status in 2004, although for monocrystalline Si crystallisation further improvement of the data quality is recommended. On the basis of the new data it is shown that PV systems on the basis of c-Si technology are in a good position to compete with other energy technologies. Energy Pay-Back Times of 1.7-2.7 yr are found for South-European locations, while life-cycle CO2 emission is in the 30-46 g/kWh range. Clear perspectives exist for further improvements with roughly 40-50%.

  1. ===53. B. Kim, J. Lee, K. Kim, T. Hur, Evaluation of environmental performance of sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems in Korea, Solar Energy, 2014, Volume 99, 100-114===

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2013.10.038


In this study, environmental issues associated with silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) systems in Korea are investigated using life cycle assessment (LCA). The target PV systems are single-crystalline silicon (sc-Si) and multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si) modules with a power conditioning system (PCS) and balance of system (BOS). In order to identify the environmental benefits and key environmental issues associated with the deployment of these systems, the global warming potential (GWP), fossil-fuel consumption (FFC), CO2 payback time (CO2PBT), and energy payback time (EPBT) of the target PV systems throughout their life cycles are analyzed. The LCA results show that sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems are superior to the current grid mix in Korea with respect to GWP and FFC. For the current conversion efficiency, the mc-Si PV system has lower values of GWP and FFC. With the predicted improvements in conversion efficiency, the GWP results associated with the construction phase of sc-Si and mc-Si PV system will be offset by electricity generated in 1.66 and 1.53 years, since then 1470 and 1477 tonne CO2 equiv. of GHGs are reduced during its lifetimes, respectively. In addition, the energy inputs during sc-Si and mc-Si PV system’s construction phase will be offset in 3.11 and 2.97 years, since by then 10.15 and 10.20 TJ of net energy benefit will have been obtained, respectively. Considering the planned deployment of PV systems in Korea and the expected improvements in PV module efficiencies, the net CO2 reduction and net energy benefit between 2010 and 2030 were calculated. If 0.45% of the Korean grid mix was substituted with mc-Si PV systems, and a conversion efficiency of 20.30% were attained, the net CO2 reduction would be a 69.8 Mtonne CO2 equiv. The supply plan is achieved using sc-Si PV systems, which achieve a conversion efficiency of 27.60%; the net energy benefit would be 410.6 TJ, which is equivalent to 4.3% of the total primary energy supply in 2009. It is shown that sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems would be suitable solutions to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions if they replaced non-renewable energy sources in Korea.

  1. ===54. B. Huang, J. Zhao, J. Chai, B. Xue, F. Zhao, X. Wanga,Environmental influence assessment of China’s multi-crystalline silicon

(multi-Si) photovoltaic modules considering recycling process,Solar Energy,2017,Volume 143,132-141 ===

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2016.12.038


The environmental burden of multi-Si PV modules in China has been discussed in existing studies, however, their data are mostly from local enterprises, and none of their environmental assessment involves the decommissioning and recycling process. This study quantitatively assesses the life-cycle environmental impacts of Chinese Multi-crystalline Photovoltaic Systems involving the recycling process. The LCA software GaBi is applied to establish the LCA model and to perform the calculation, and ReCiPe method is chosen to quantify the environmental impacts. LCA of production process reveals that Polysilicon production, Cell processing and Modules assembling have relatively higher environmental impact than processes of Industrial silicon smelting and Ingot casting and Wafer slicing. Among the 14 environmental impact categories evaluated by ReCiPe methodology, the most prominent environment impacts are found as Climate Change and Human Toxicity. LCA including recycling process reveals that although recycling process has environmental impact, the recycling scenario has less environmental impact by comparing with the landfill scenario. Among the five manufacturing processes and recycling process, environmental impacts of polysilicon production, cell processing and modules assembling have relatively higher uncertainty, probably because that the environmental impact of these processes is high, and standard error of parameters such as electricity, aluminum and glass in the three processes are high. Findings of our study indicate that proper measures should be taken in the high pollution processes such as polysilicon production and cell processing. In addition, efforts should also be made to enhance the recovery rate and seek for more environmental friendly materials in the recycling process.