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Showstoppers and Bottlenecks to Terawatt Solar Photovoltaics Abstract

In light of the global energy demands which are predicted to reach 46 terawatts by 2100, solar photovoltaics has to be deployed at a scale of tens of peak terawatts in order to meet a meaningful portion of the demands. The enormous scale required creates a number of showstoppers and bottlenecks for solar photovoltaic technologies, which are unprecedented in other semiconductor technologies. Some of the showstoppers and bottlenecks include limited availability of raw materials used in today’s solar cells, high energy input for silicon solar cells and modules, recyclability of solar cells and modules, large-scale storage of intermittent solar electricity, and high production and installation costs for solar cells and modules. In this webinar, we will present a quantitative analysis on these showstoppers and bottlenecks for solar photovoltaics under the best scenarios, i.e. the maximum possible wattage from each of the current commercial solar cell technologies. Without significant technological breakthroughs, all the current commercial cell technologies combined would not be able to make a noticeable impact on our energy mix or carbon emission. Based on this analysis, several strategic R&D directions are identified for a scalable and sustainable solar photovoltaic technology.