The Role of Advancements in Photovoltaic Efficiency, Reliability, and Costs

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The Role of Advancements in Photovoltaic Efficiency, Reliability, and Costs

Although tremendous progress has been made in reducing the cost of PV systems, additional LCOE reductions of 40%–50% between 2015 and 2020 will be required to reach the SunShot Initiative’s targets (see Woodhouse et al. 2016). Understanding the tradeoffs between installed prices and other PV system characteristics—such as module efficiency, module degradation rate, and system lifetime—are vital. For example, with 29%-efficient modules and high reliability (a 50-year lifetime and a 0.2%/year module degradation rate), a residential PV system could achieve the SunShot LCOE goal with modules priced at almost $1.20/W. But change the lifetime to 10 years and the degradation rate to 2%/year, and the system would need those very high-efficiency modules at zero cost to achieve the same LCOE. Although these examples are extreme, they serve to illustrate the wide range of technological combinations that could help drive PV toward the LCOE goals. SunShot’s PV roadmaps illustrate specific potential pathways to the target cost reductions.

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