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Title: Accelerating Photovoltaic Market Entry with Module Replacement

Abstract

Today's approach to deploying solar photovoltaics (PV) implicitly assumes that module technology is fixed. Solar panels are installed and expected to operate for the system life of 30 years or more. However, many PV technologies are improving rapidly along several dimensions, including cost, power conversion efficiency, and reliability. Periodic module replacement or planned repowering takes advantage of this technological improvement and counteracts predictable degradation. Here, we show that a module replacement strategy allows a competitive levelized cost of electricity to be achieved with an initial module lifetime of less than 15 years, assuming backward compatibility with the original system design. We also assess the life-cycle environmental impacts of module replacement and find that all commercial PV technologies offer benefits in the majority of impact categories, regardless of the replacement strategy, compared to today's electric generation mix. Module replacement can thus accelerate the market introduction and decarbonization impact of emerging PV technologies that have achieved a competitive module efficiency (=20%), cost (=$0.30/W), and lifetime (=10 years) and have the potential to improve further on all three metrics but lack decades-long field deployment experience.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Swift Solar Inc.
  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
OSTI Identifier:
1578264
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-6A20-73553
DOE Contract Number:  
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Joule
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 3; Journal Issue: 11
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; photovoltaics; reliability; LCOE

Citation Formats

Jean, Joel, Woodhouse, Michael A, and Bulovic, Vladimir. Accelerating Photovoltaic Market Entry with Module Replacement. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1016/j.joule.2019.08.012.
Jean, Joel, Woodhouse, Michael A, & Bulovic, Vladimir. Accelerating Photovoltaic Market Entry with Module Replacement. United States. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joule.2019.08.012
Jean, Joel, Woodhouse, Michael A, and Bulovic, Vladimir. Thu . "Accelerating Photovoltaic Market Entry with Module Replacement". United States. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joule.2019.08.012.
@article{osti_1578264,
title = {Accelerating Photovoltaic Market Entry with Module Replacement},
author = {Jean, Joel and Woodhouse, Michael A and Bulovic, Vladimir},
abstractNote = {Today's approach to deploying solar photovoltaics (PV) implicitly assumes that module technology is fixed. Solar panels are installed and expected to operate for the system life of 30 years or more. However, many PV technologies are improving rapidly along several dimensions, including cost, power conversion efficiency, and reliability. Periodic module replacement or planned repowering takes advantage of this technological improvement and counteracts predictable degradation. Here, we show that a module replacement strategy allows a competitive levelized cost of electricity to be achieved with an initial module lifetime of less than 15 years, assuming backward compatibility with the original system design. We also assess the life-cycle environmental impacts of module replacement and find that all commercial PV technologies offer benefits in the majority of impact categories, regardless of the replacement strategy, compared to today's electric generation mix. Module replacement can thus accelerate the market introduction and decarbonization impact of emerging PV technologies that have achieved a competitive module efficiency (=20%), cost (=$0.30/W), and lifetime (=10 years) and have the potential to improve further on all three metrics but lack decades-long field deployment experience.},
doi = {10.1016/j.joule.2019.08.012},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1578264}, journal = {Joule},
number = 11,
volume = 3,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {9}
}