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Title: Accelerating Photovoltaic Market Entry with Module Replacement

Journal Article · · Joule
 [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

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.

Research Organization:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Organization:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Renewable Power Office. Solar Energy Technologies Office
DOE Contract Number:
Report Number(s):
Journal Information:
Joule, Vol. 3, Issue 11
Country of Publication:
United States