Supply-Chain Dynamics of Tellurium, Indium, and Gallium Within the Context of PV Manufacturing Costs

Michael Woodhouse, Alan Goodrich, Robert Margolis, Ted L. James, Martin Lokanc, Roderick Eggert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus Citations


If humankind is to implement more sustainable energy choices, it will be crucial for energy systems such as photovoltaics (PV) to demonstrate success both soon and over the long-term quest. To that end, both the crystalline silicon and thin-film technologies have made, and continue to make, remarkable strides toward providing solutions that are quickly becoming more competitive against the traditional sources for power generation. But, within the thin-film segment of this industry the highest demonstrated sunlight power conversion efficiencies have thus far come from material sets containing relatively rare constituent elements. These include tellurium in the cadmium telluride technology, and indium and/or gallium in the CIS/copper indium gallium diselenide and III-V families of technologies. In this paper we show that the current global supply base for these three energy-critical elements is not sufficient for enabling energy-significant levels of PV deployment, but also show that each of the thin-film PV technologies that are described has an ability to absorb potential increases in the price for these constituent element(s). This ability then leads to the possibility that the supply base for each element can be augmented.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number6471728
Pages (from-to)833-837
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-57321


  • Gallium
  • indium
  • tellurium
  • thin-film photovoltaic (PV)


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