A Circularity Assessment for Silicon Solar Panels Based on Dynamic Material Flow Analysis

Sherif Khalifa, Benjamin Mastrorocco, Dylan Au, Teresa Barnes, Alberta Carpenter, Jason Baxter

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


This paper examines the impacts of design, operational, and end-of-life (EOL) waste pathways' parameters on material circularity in silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. Dynamic material flow analysis (DMFA) quantifies time-series material flows through systems' life cycle stages to identify hotspots of waste generation, estimate resource needs in the future, and guide sustainable material management. We introduce a DMFA framework based on U.S. electricity demand for the period 2000-2100 to assess stocks and flows of bulk PV materials (i.e., solar glass and aluminum frames). We apply the model to a range of scenarios to understand how material demands depend on selected PV-related parameters, different material circularity strategies, and recent module design trends (e.g., bifacials, large-format-high power modules). Our results enable advanced planning for future materials needs and provide insight into potential opportunities to minimize material waste.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2021
Event48th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2021 - Fort Lauderdale, United States
Duration: 20 Jun 202125 Jun 2021


Conference48th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityFort Lauderdale

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-6A20-80275 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-6A20-81157


  • Circular economy
  • crystalline silicon photovoltaics
  • dynamic material flow analysis
  • waste management


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