Determining the Sustainability of Second Generation Photovoltaic Solar Panels: Metal Production and Recycling
MetadataShow full item record
Second-generation photovoltaic solar panel use is increasing worldwide, thus the demand for resources, such as metals, used to make the panels is increasing as well. The main driver of this study is the United Nations and World Wildlife Fund’s ‘50% solar by 2050’ goal to try and increase the use of solar panels worldwide. This gave an insight into the potential growth of demand for these high-efficiency panels. Tellurium, gallium, indium, and cadmium are rare metals used in the panels to increase the efficiency of the electricity production; however, these metals are not renewable resources and can be depleted if overused or not recycled. Using the compound annual growth rate of each metal and their previous production levels, the amount produced was calculated for the year 2050. It is then compared to the global reserves and recycling rates to determine the sustainability of second-generation panels in the future. The production of gallium and cadmium are enough to support the demand in 2050, however, the reserves for tellurium and indium are not enough to support the 2050 PV industry.