skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges

Abstract

The annual potential of solar energy far exceeds the world's total energy consumption. However, the vision of photovoltaics (PVs) providing a substantial fraction of global electricity generation and total energy demand is far from being realized. What technical, infrastructure, economic, and policy barriers need to be overcome for PVs to grow to the multiple terawatt (TW) scale? Here, we assess realistic future scenarios and make suggestions for a global agenda to move toward PVs at a multi-TW scale.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [1];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [7];  [8];  [9];  [1];  [10];  [11];  [11];  [12];  [1];  [13];  [1];  [1] more »;  [1] « less
  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  2. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
  3. SolarWorld Industries Thuringen GmbH, Arnstadt (Germany)
  4. First Solar, Tempe, AZ (United States)
  5. Univ. of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW (Australia)
  6. "Solar Cells - Development and Characterization" Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg (Germany)
  7. Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg (Germany)
  8. VDE, Frankfurt am Main (Germany)
  9. RTS Corp., Tokyo (Japan)
  10. National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Fukushima (Japan)
  11. AIST, Tsukuba (Japan)
  12. Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy System (ISE), Freiburg (Germany)
  13. Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Freiburg (Germany); Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore (BEARS), Create Tower (Singapore)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Renewable Power Office. Solar Energy Technologies Office
OSTI Identifier:
1352502
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-5K00-66779
Journal ID: ISSN 0036-8075
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Science
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 356; Journal Issue: 6334; Journal ID: ISSN 0036-8075
Publisher:
AAAS
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; terawatt scale; photovoltaics; challenges; R&D; complementary technologies; COP-21; international collaboration; GA-SERI

Citation Formats

Haegel, Nancy M., Margolis, Robert, Buonassisi, Tonio, Feldman, David, Froitzheim, Armin, Garabedian, Raffi, Green, Martin, Glunz, Stefan, Henning, Hans -Martin, Holder, Burkhard, Kaizuka, Izumi, Kroposki, Benjamin, Matsubara, Koji, Niki, Shigeru, Sakurai, Keiichiro, Schindler, Roland A., Tumas, William, Weber, Eicke R., Wilson, Gregory, Woodhouse, Michael, and Kurtz, Sarah. Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1126/science.aal1288.
Haegel, Nancy M., Margolis, Robert, Buonassisi, Tonio, Feldman, David, Froitzheim, Armin, Garabedian, Raffi, Green, Martin, Glunz, Stefan, Henning, Hans -Martin, Holder, Burkhard, Kaizuka, Izumi, Kroposki, Benjamin, Matsubara, Koji, Niki, Shigeru, Sakurai, Keiichiro, Schindler, Roland A., Tumas, William, Weber, Eicke R., Wilson, Gregory, Woodhouse, Michael, & Kurtz, Sarah. Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges. United States. doi:10.1126/science.aal1288.
Haegel, Nancy M., Margolis, Robert, Buonassisi, Tonio, Feldman, David, Froitzheim, Armin, Garabedian, Raffi, Green, Martin, Glunz, Stefan, Henning, Hans -Martin, Holder, Burkhard, Kaizuka, Izumi, Kroposki, Benjamin, Matsubara, Koji, Niki, Shigeru, Sakurai, Keiichiro, Schindler, Roland A., Tumas, William, Weber, Eicke R., Wilson, Gregory, Woodhouse, Michael, and Kurtz, Sarah. Thu . "Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges". United States. doi:10.1126/science.aal1288. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1352502.
@article{osti_1352502,
title = {Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges},
author = {Haegel, Nancy M. and Margolis, Robert and Buonassisi, Tonio and Feldman, David and Froitzheim, Armin and Garabedian, Raffi and Green, Martin and Glunz, Stefan and Henning, Hans -Martin and Holder, Burkhard and Kaizuka, Izumi and Kroposki, Benjamin and Matsubara, Koji and Niki, Shigeru and Sakurai, Keiichiro and Schindler, Roland A. and Tumas, William and Weber, Eicke R. and Wilson, Gregory and Woodhouse, Michael and Kurtz, Sarah},
abstractNote = {The annual potential of solar energy far exceeds the world's total energy consumption. However, the vision of photovoltaics (PVs) providing a substantial fraction of global electricity generation and total energy demand is far from being realized. What technical, infrastructure, economic, and policy barriers need to be overcome for PVs to grow to the multiple terawatt (TW) scale? Here, we assess realistic future scenarios and make suggestions for a global agenda to move toward PVs at a multi-TW scale.},
doi = {10.1126/science.aal1288},
journal = {Science},
issn = {0036-8075},
number = 6334,
volume = 356,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {4}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 66 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Assessing the drivers of regional trends in solar photovoltaic manufacturing
journal, January 2013

  • Goodrich, Alan C.; Powell, Douglas M.; James, Ted L.
  • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 6, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1039/c3ee40701b

The capital intensity of photovoltaics manufacturing: barrier to scale and opportunity for innovation
journal, January 2015

  • Powell, Douglas M.; Fu, Ran; Horowitz, Kelsey
  • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 8, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1039/C5EE01509J

Rapidly falling costs of battery packs for electric vehicles
journal, March 2015


Monocrystalline CdTe solar cells with open-circuit voltage over 1 V and efficiency of 17%
journal, May 2016


Technology advances needed for photovoltaics to achieve widespread grid price parity: Widespread grid price parity for photovoltaics
journal, April 2016

  • Jones-Albertus, Rebecca; Feldman, David; Fu, Ran
  • Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Vol. 24, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1002/pip.2755

Compendium of photovoltaic degradation rates: Photovoltaic degradation rates
journal, February 2016

  • Jordan, Dirk C.; Kurtz, Sarah R.; VanSant, Kaitlyn
  • Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Vol. 24, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1002/pip.2744

Erratum: Corrigendum: CdTe solar cells with open-circuit voltage breaking the 1 V barrier
journal, April 2016


Extreme selectivity in the lift‐off of epitaxial GaAs films
journal, December 1987

  • Yablonovitch, Eli; Gmitter, T.; Harbison, J. P.
  • Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 51, Issue 26, p. 2222-2224
  • DOI: 10.1063/1.98946

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Meeting global cooling demand with photovoltaics during the 21st century
    journal, January 2019

    • Laine, Hannu S.; Salpakari, Jyri; Looney, Erin E.
    • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 12, Issue 9
    • DOI: 10.1039/c9ee00002j

    Accelerating the discovery of materials for clean energy in the era of smart automation
    journal, April 2018

    • Tabor, Daniel P.; Roch, Loïc M.; Saikin, Semion K.
    • Nature Reviews Materials, Vol. 3, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1038/s41578-018-0005-z

    On-grid batteries for large-scale energy storage: Challenges and opportunities for policy and technology
    journal, January 2018

    • Faunce, Thomas A.; Prest, James; Su, Dawei
    • MRS Energy & Sustainability, Vol. 5
    • DOI: 10.1557/mre.2018.11

    Multimodal X-ray imaging of grain-level properties and performance in a polycrystalline solar cell
    journal, May 2019

    • Ulvestad, A.; Hruszkewycz, S. O.; Holt, M. V.
    • Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, Vol. 26, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.1107/s1600577519003606

    Accelerating the discovery of materials for clean energy in the era of smart automation
    journal, April 2018

    • Tabor, Daniel P.; Roch, Loïc M.; Saikin, Semion K.
    • Nature Reviews Materials, Vol. 3, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1038/s41578-018-0005-z

    Meeting global cooling demand with photovoltaics during the 21st century
    journal, January 2019

    • Laine, Hannu S.; Salpakari, Jyri; Looney, Erin E.
    • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 12, Issue 9
    • DOI: 10.1039/c9ee00002j

    Multimodal X-ray imaging of grain-level properties and performance in a polycrystalline solar cell
    journal, May 2019

    • Ulvestad, A.; Hruszkewycz, S. O.; Holt, M. V.
    • Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, Vol. 26, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.1107/s1600577519003606

    On-grid batteries for large-scale energy storage: Challenges and opportunities for policy and technology
    journal, January 2018

    • Faunce, Thomas A.; Prest, James; Su, Dawei
    • MRS Energy & Sustainability, Vol. 5
    • DOI: 10.1557/mre.2018.11

    Multimodal X-ray imaging of grain-level properties and performance in a polycrystalline solar cell
    text, January 2019

    • Ulvestad, A.; Hruszkewycz, S. O.; Holt, M. V.
    • Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, DESY, Hamburg
    • DOI: 10.3204/pubdb-2019-02309

    Organic Photovoltaics over Three Decades
    journal, June 2018


    A Highly Porous Copper Electrocatalyst for Carbon Dioxide Reduction
    journal, October 2018

    • Lv, Jing-Jing; Jouny, Matthew; Luc, Wesley
    • Advanced Materials, Vol. 30, Issue 49
    • DOI: 10.1002/adma.201803111

    Perovskite/Silicon Tandem Solar Cells: Marriage of Convenience or True Love Story? - An Overview
    journal, September 2017

    • Werner, Jérémie; Niesen, Bjoern; Ballif, Christophe
    • Advanced Materials Interfaces, Vol. 5, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1002/admi.201700731

    Global Artificial Photosynthesis and Renewable Energy Storage and Policy for the Sustainocene
    journal, July 2018


    TiO 2 Phase Junction Electron Transport Layer Boosts Efficiency of Planar Perovskite Solar Cells
    journal, January 2018


    Photocatalysis: Basic Principles, Diverse Forms of Implementations and Emerging Scientific Opportunities
    journal, August 2017


    What Makes a Good Solar Cell?
    journal, March 2018


    Pack die Sonne in den Tank: Zur Weiterentwicklung nachhaltiger Energiesysteme
    journal, November 2018


    Put the Sun in the Tank: Future Developments in Sustainable Energy Systems
    journal, November 2018


    A General Technoeconomic Model for Evaluating Emerging Electrolytic Processes
    journal, December 2019

    • Orella, Michael J.; Brown, Steven M.; Leonard, McLain E.
    • Energy Technology, Vol. 8, Issue 11
    • DOI: 10.1002/ente.201900994

    Extraction of a photovoltaic cell's double-diode model parameters from data sheet values
    journal, July 2018

    • Sulyok, Georg; Summhammer, Johann
    • Energy Science & Engineering, Vol. 6, Issue 5
    • DOI: 10.1002/ese3.216

    Comparing supply and demand models for future photovoltaic power generation in the USA
    journal, February 2018

    • Basore, Paul A.; Cole, Wesley J.
    • Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Vol. 26, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1002/pip.2997

    The role of photovoltaics in a sustainable European energy system under variable CO 2 emissions targets, transmission capacities, and costs assumptions
    journal, November 2019

    • Victoria, Marta; Zhu, Kun; Brown, Tom
    • Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Vol. 28, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1002/pip.3198

    Donor Centers Involved into the Quantum Cutting in Ytterbium‐Doped Scheelite‐Like Crystals
    journal, October 2019

    • Subbotin, Kirill A.; Titov, Anatolii I.; Lis, Denis A.
    • physica status solidi (a), Vol. 217, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.1002/pssa.201900659

    The Optical Diode Ideality Factor Enables Fast Screening of Semiconductors for Solar Cells
    journal, October 2018


    Scalable Core–Shell MoS 2 /Sb 2 Se 3 Nanorod Array Photocathodes for Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting
    journal, November 2019


    Exploring the competition between variable renewable electricity and a carbon-neutral baseload technology
    journal, October 2018


    Bimetallic Electrocatalysts for CO2 Reduction
    journal, October 2018

    • Zhu, Wenlei; Tackett, Brian M.; Chen, Jingguang G.
    • Topics in Current Chemistry, Vol. 376, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1007/s41061-018-0220-5

    The political logics of clean energy transitions
    journal, September 2018

    • Breetz, Hanna; Mildenberger, Matto; Stokes, Leah
    • Business and Politics, Vol. 20, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.1017/bap.2018.14

    The underestimated potential of solar energy to mitigate climate change
    journal, August 2017

    • Creutzig, Felix; Agoston, Peter; Goldschmidt, Jan Christoph
    • Nature Energy, Vol. 2, Issue 9
    • DOI: 10.1038/nenergy.2017.140

    Radical transformation pathway towards sustainable electricity via evolutionary steps
    journal, March 2019


    Efficient electron transmission in covalent organic framework nanosheets for highly active electrocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction
    journal, January 2020


    Iron(ii) coordination complexes with panchromatic absorption and nanosecond charge-transfer excited state lifetimes
    journal, November 2019


    Estimation of losses in solar energy production from air pollution in China since 1960 using surface radiation data
    journal, July 2019


    Disparities in rooftop photovoltaics deployment in the United States by race and ethnicity
    journal, January 2019

    • Sunter, Deborah A.; Castellanos, Sergio; Kammen, Daniel M.
    • Nature Sustainability, Vol. 2, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1038/s41893-018-0204-z

    Technical photosynthesis involving CO2 electrolysis and fermentation
    journal, January 2018


    High-rate electroreduction of carbon monoxide to multi-carbon products
    journal, August 2018


    Carbon monoxide electroreduction as an emerging platform for carbon utilization
    journal, December 2019


    Pathways to electrochemical solar-hydrogen technologies
    journal, January 2018

    • Ardo, Shane; Fernandez Rivas, David; Modestino, Miguel A.
    • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 11, Issue 10
    • DOI: 10.1039/c7ee03639f

    Candidate photoferroic absorber materials for thin-film solar cells from naturally occurring minerals: enargite, stephanite, and bournonite
    journal, January 2017

    • Wallace, Suzanne K.; Svane, Katrine L.; Huhn, William P.
    • Sustainable Energy & Fuels, Vol. 1, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1039/c7se00277g

    From CO 2 methanation to ambitious long-chain hydrocarbons: alternative fuels paving the path to sustainability
    journal, January 2019

    • Marques Mota, Filipe; Kim, Dong Ha
    • Chemical Society Reviews, Vol. 48, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1039/c8cs00527c

    The mutual dependence of negative emission technologies and energy systems
    journal, January 2019

    • Creutzig, Felix; Breyer, Christian; Hilaire, Jérôme
    • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 12, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1039/c8ee03682a

    An experimental and theoretical study into NaSbS 2 as an emerging solar absorber
    journal, January 2019

    • Leung, W. W. Winnie; Savory, Christopher N.; Palgrave, Robert G.
    • Journal of Materials Chemistry C, Vol. 7, Issue 7
    • DOI: 10.1039/c8tc06284f

    Revisiting thin silicon for photovoltaics: a technoeconomic perspective
    journal, January 2020

    • Liu, Zhe; Sofia, Sarah E.; Laine, Hannu S.
    • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 13, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1039/c9ee02452b

    The complex defect chemistry of antimony selenide
    journal, January 2019

    • Savory, Christopher N.; Scanlon, David O.
    • Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Vol. 7, Issue 17
    • DOI: 10.1039/c9ta02022e

    Inorganic perovskite solar cells: an emerging member of the photovoltaic community
    journal, January 2019

    • Duan, Jialong; Xu, Hongzhe; Sha, W. E. I.
    • Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Vol. 7, Issue 37
    • DOI: 10.1039/c9ta06674h

    Scalable and efficient Sb 2 S 3 thin-film solar cells fabricated by close space sublimation
    journal, April 2019

    • Guo, Liping; Zhang, Baiyu; Li, Shan
    • APL Materials, Vol. 7, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.1063/1.5090773

    Modeling ballistic phonon transport from a cylindrical electron beam heat source
    journal, September 2019

    • Wehmeyer, Geoff
    • Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 126, Issue 12
    • DOI: 10.1063/1.5115165

    Long-term urban carbon dioxide observations reveal spatial and temporal dynamics related to urban characteristics and growth
    journal, March 2018

    • Mitchell, Logan E.; Lin, John C.; Bowling, David R.
    • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 115, Issue 12
    • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1702393115

    Recalibrating climate prospects
    journal, December 2019

    • Lovins, Amory B.; Ürge-Vorsatz, Diana; Mundaca, Luis
    • Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 14, Issue 12
    • DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab55ab

    Application of dye-sensitized and perovskite solar cells on flexible substrates
    journal, March 2018


    Nexus approach to solar technology for energy and water supply for sustainable rural development in Egypt: a review
    journal, September 2019

    • Wydra, Kerstin; Jaskolski, Martina; Wagner, Lukas
    • Journal of Photonics for Energy, Vol. 9, Issue 04
    • DOI: 10.1117/1.jpe.9.043108

    Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Transform global energy
    journal, May 2019


    Solar Fuels by Heterogeneous Photocatalysis: From Understanding Chemical Bases to Process Development
    journal, September 2018


    The Technical Challenges Facing the Integration of Small-Scale and Large-scale PV Systems into the Grid: A Critical Review
    journal, December 2019


    Silver Buckshot or Bullet: Is a Future “Energy Mix” Necessary?
    journal, January 2018

    • Brook, Barry; Blees, Tom; Wigley, Tom
    • Sustainability, Vol. 10, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.3390/su10020302