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Supply Constraints Analysis

The Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center's (CEMAC's) supply constraints analysis focuses on understanding whether rare material constraints could limit the scale of rare material-based photovoltaic (PV) technology deployment.

CEMAC's manufacturing supply chain constraints analyses show that:

  • Tellurium (Te) prices already contribute significantly to module cost, and future price could be critical to the economic viability of this PV technology.
  • Even with significant cadmium telluride (CdTe) technology improvements to reduce Te intensity, deployment of CdTe PV technology may be constrained by future Te supplies.

Highlights of Our Work: Tellurium Supply Constraints Analysis

In a study published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, researchers investigated the impacts of potential Te supply constraints on future CdTe PV module deployment and found that:

  • CdTe PV modules can remain cost competitive with future projections for c-Si PV modules—even with a 10-times increase in Te prices—IF technology and manufacturing improvement efficiency and thickness targets are realized
  • If copper mining is relied upon as the sole source of Te, CdTe PV technology may be constrained to around 10 gigawatts of annual production by 2020 and 40–70 gigawatts of annual CdTe production by 2030.

Cost estimates were based on NREL's manufacturing cost model, a financial simulation of typical CdTe module manufacturing processes including materials and equipment, operational costs, and cost of financing.