PV Evolution in the Light of Circular Economy: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


An ideal circular economy has no waste, end-of-life resources become new goods, and all production loops are closed. For the photovoltaic industry’s growing waste problem, quantifying the value of lifetime, reliability, repair, reuse, recycling and other options to increase circularity can help identify and prioritize research needs. In this work we capture the evolution of PV module technology, such as improved reliability and increasing market share of glass/glass modules. We then study the material and energy flows for PV production and use, and identify the circular processes and pathways yielding the most impact. We discuss material circularity and energy return on investment as quantitative metrics to define and evaluate circularity.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2021
Event48th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 48) -
Duration: 20 Jun 202125 Jun 2021


Conference48th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 48)

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5K00-81259 for paper as published in proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5K00-78989


  • bifacial
  • circular economy
  • energy return on investment (EROI)
  • photovoltaics
  • recycle
  • reliability
  • repair
  • reuse


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