Despite the world's effort to decarbonise the energy sector, the majority of primary energy is still produced by fossil fuels (82%), and the renewables share of primary energy consumption was 7.5% in 2022.

  1. The global installed PV capacity has increased rapidly in the past two decades. Since last year, the world has reached 1.18 TW cumulative capacity. However, despite the 24% increase, significantly more than what has been installed is required to mitigate climate change. While PV is known to be environmentally sustainable, the rapid increase in the market size is leading to material shortages.
  2. The most heavily used materials for PV modules are glass, aluminium, silicon, EVA, etc. While only about 0.03% of a module weight is made of silver, the PV industry still required over 14% of silver supply last year in 2022. It is projected that even abundant materials such as copper, concrete, and aluminium can face material shortages. 
  3. Considering how the world needs to expand the scale by more than a factor of 10 within the coming decade, the material shortage may become a significant issue towards the sustainability of the industry.

Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering

Research Area

Solar cells design and fabrication | PV system design | Material supply-chain and lifecycle analysis

This project will investigate material supply-chain risks for terawatt scale PV deployment. The research will be conducted on solar cell fabrication technologies, pathways to reduce material consumption, decarbonise electricity for material and solar cell production, alternative low cost and low carbon footprint materials, material recycling, and prospects for local manufacturing.

This TOR project will be mainly supervised by Dr.Sisi Wang and Dr. Li Wang. Besides, other support can also be provided by the rest of the research team, including A. Prof. Brett Hallam, Dr. Moonyong Kim and other post-docs and research assistants.

Expected Outcomes/Activity Description:

Throughout the project duration, students are expected to carry out/obtain:

  • In-depth literature review to understand the life cycle for raw materials used for PV and associated cost and emission
  • Calculate material demand for certain materials for terawatt PV
  • Identify issues to be addressed for the terawatt scale
  • Investigate pathways to reduce material consumption and carbon emission
  • Opportunity for conference/journal paper publication
  • Opportunity for thesis project/PhD program
ACAP research fellow Li Wang
ACAP research fellow
Postdoctoral fellow of Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics  Moonyong Kim
Postdoctoral fellow of Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics
Scientia and ARC DECRA Fellow Brett Hallam
Scientia and ARC DECRA Fellow