Modeling The Supply Chain of Critical Metals for Solar PV Using System Dynamics Approach

  • Hermon Teferi Berhe

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis

    Abstract

    Excessive emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere gave rise to great worldwide concern as it exacerbates the rate of global temperature increase. Solar energy has emerged as one of the most reliable, clean, and renewable sources of energy. It is expected to make a significant contribution to keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. Solar energy is harvested through photovoltaic solar panels from the direct reflection of sunlight. Solar cells are the main components of a solar photovoltaic panel, and it is coated with semiconductors to absorb the sunlight and convert it to electrical energy. However, while solar power is a promising technology in minimizing carbon emission, the raw materials used to cot the solar cells are crucial and in danger of being out of supply. Those materials, such as indium, gallium, and tellurium, are categorized as critical commodities because of their unequal and sparse distribution on the earth's surface. In this thesis, the investigation of the sourcing, recycling, and reuse of crucial raw materials in solar photovoltaic technology is done using a system dynamics software program called Vensim. According to the historical global annual production data collected from 2000 to 2021, the system dynamics are designed to anticipate three likely future scenarios (normal, optimistic, and pessimistic), for the availability of vital commodities until 2050. The results show how the supply bottlenecks of those commodities influence the manufacturing rate of solar PV industries as well as the installation and adoption rate of solar power. Moreover, it magnifies the significant role of recycling and reusing solar panels at their end of life for securing the availability of those commodities in the future. Finally, validation of the system dynamics is done to check its accuracy and functionality.
    Date of AwardJul 2022
    Original languageAmerican English

    Keywords

    • Solar photovoltaics
    • critical commodities
    • recycling
    • end of life.

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