SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Embodied Energy and CO2 from the Manufacture of Cadmium Telluride and Silicon Photovoltaics  
Hope Wikoff, Samantha B Reese, Matthew O Reese
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, United States

As the US DOE pushes for an installation of 1 TW of solar PV by 2035, the need to compare utility scale technologies – Si and CdTe PV – becomes clear. Here, we employ a cradle to gate Life Cycle Assessment modeling tool, the Material Flows through Industry tool, to quantify the overall Energy and Carbon Equivalents involved in the manufacture of state-of-the-art solar modules from leading manufacturers. We also perform an analysis to identify which components within the solar module are contributing the most to these impacts. Our component analysis suggests that CdTe module impacts, which are overall less than Si, come from glass and frame materials, while it is the silicon semiconductor that contributes most to the impacts of a silicon module. Finally, we show that when scaled up to DOE goals the implementation of CdTe over Si could save 804 billion kgCO2eq, roughly 4X the total 2019 US electricity generation carbon emissions.