Research ArticleENGINEERING

Life cycle energy use and environmental implications of high-performance perovskite tandem solar cells

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Science Advances  31 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 31, eabb0055
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb0055

Abstract

A promising route to widespread deployment of photovoltaics is to harness inexpensive, highly-efficient tandems. We perform holistic life cycle assessments on the energy payback time, carbon footprint, and environmental impact scores for perovskite-silicon and perovskite-perovskite tandems benchmarked against state-of-the-art commercial silicon cells. The scalability of processing steps and materials in the manufacture and operation of tandems is considered. The resulting energy payback time and greenhouse gas emission factor of the all-perovskite tandem configuration are 0.35 years and 10.7 g CO2-eq/kWh, respectively, compared to 1.52 years and 24.6 g CO2-eq/kWh for the silicon benchmark. Prolonging the lifetime provides a strong technological lever for reducing the carbon footprint such that the perovskite-silicon tandem can outcompete the current benchmark on energy and environmental performance. Perovskite-perovskite tandems with flexible and lightweight form factors further improve the energy and environmental performance by around 6% and thus enhance the potential for large-scale, sustainable deployment.

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