A Techno-Economic Analysis and Cost Reduction Roadmap for III-V Solar Cells

Kelsey Horowitz, Aaron Ptak, Brittany Smith, Timothy Remo

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


III-V materials have achieved the highest efficiency of any solar cell technology. They have been commercially available since the 1960s, and have been widely used in space applications where high performance is required. However, prices of III-V solar cells are currently 2 to 3 orders of magnitude higher than other technologies, prohibiting their use in mainstream photovoltaic (PV) markets outside of high concentration photovoltaic systems. In this report, we present bottom-up cost models for current III-V solar cell technology, and explore the reasons behind these high costs. Then, we examine the advances required to drive cost down, and present a roadmap illustrating potential pathways to reach costs that could enable III-Vs to be competitive in broader, terrestrial markets without concentration. We find that cell manufacturing costs of $0.40/W or below could be achieved in high volume production, but that this would require commercialization and scale-up of a low-cost epitaxial growth technique, implementation of alternative, low-cost metallization schemes, and, critically, significant research and development to address the high cost of the substrate.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-72103


  • cost analysis
  • GaAs
  • HVPE
  • III-Vs
  • manufacturing
  • multi-junction solar cells
  • solar cells


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