The role of innovation for economy and sustainability of photovoltaic modules

iScience. 2022 Sep 27;25(10):105208. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105208. eCollection 2022 Oct 21.


The role of innovation for the success of photovoltaics cannot be overstated. Photovoltaics have enjoyed the most substantial price learning of any energy technology. Innovation affects photovoltaic performance in more ways, though. Here, we explore the role of innovation for economics and greenhouse gas savings of photovoltaic modules using replacement scenarios. We find that the greenhouse gas displacement potential of photovoltaic modules has improved substantially over the last 20 years-4-fold for the presented example. We show that the economically ideal time for repowering is after around 20 years, but that repowering may reduce greenhouse gas savings. Expanding photovoltaic installations is generally preferable, economically and sustainably, to repowering. We argue that i) we should maximize the greenhouse gas saving potential of each module, which requires a global strategy, ii) tandem solar cells should aim for stability, and iii) efforts to continue and accelerate innovation in photovoltaic technology are needed.

PMID:36248740 | PMC:PMC9557026 | DOI:10.1016/j.isci.2022.105208


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