The Scale Of Material Constraints

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PV and EVs currently supply minor niche markets for electricity and transport but their roles in the energy system may change drastically later in this century. The current stock of installed PV capacity in 1999 was less than 1GWp (billion watts of peak power) which probably produced less than 1TWh/yr (terawatt hours). This can be compared to scenarios developed by IIASA and WEC (2000), where the energy supplied by direct solar technologies varies between 5000 and 22000TWh/yr in 2050 (that is, between 2 per cent and 7 per cent of total supply). By 2100, the PV output could be between 23000 and

* This chapter is based on the case studies in Andersson et al. (1998); Andersson (2000); Andersson and Jacobsson (2000); Andersson and Rade (2001); Rade and Andersson (2001a, 2001b). For more elaborate general discussions see Andersson (2001) and Rade (2001).

127000TWh/yr (that is, between 4 and 25 per cent of total supply). There are other (non-PV) solar technologies, but the numbers imply a potential growth of PV capacity by three to five orders of magnitude. Assuming relatively high capacity utilization, the creation of a 25 000TWh/yr PV system, over the course of a century, would require an annual addition of 160GWp or 1000 times the manufacturing volume in 1998.

The stock of EVs in the world in the late 1990s was between 10 and 20 thousand units, while the number of motor cars was 500-600 million. Given a reasonably high economic growth, and no major trend break in personal mobility, we may approach a situation at the end of the century where the average car ownership in the world is about the current average in Western Europe (Azar et al. 2000; Schafer and Victor 2000). With a population of nine to ten billion people, this implies a total stock of four to five billion cars, which are by many envisioned to be EVs powered by batteries and fuel cells.

The question arises: will some PV, battery or fuel cell technologies which are promising in the short run be constrained by metal scarcity somewhere on the path from small-scale to large-scale implementation? To get some idea of levels, we use medium optimistic assumptions for metal requirement per utility service unit together with metal reserves to calculate the material-constrained stock (SMC) for two solar cells, three batteries and one fuel cell (Table 31.1). The PV designs are constrained to produce 150 and 300TWh/yr, the batteries to power 10 to 300 million EVs and the fuel cell to power 1.4 billion EVs. The material-constrained stocks are dramatically larger than current solar electricity production and EV fleets, but significantly smaller than the envisioned demand. For an assessment comprising four types of thin film PV designs, see Andersson (2000, 2001) and Andersson and Jacobsson (2000), for nine types of batteries see Andersson and Rade (2001), and for two types of fuel cells see Rade and Andersson (2001a).

The material-constrained stocks in Table 31.1 are only an indication of scale and a point of departure. Apparently, the requirement of scarce metals is an issue for all these technologies but the many factors determining metal requirement and availability introduce a wide range of uncertainty. The actual potential may be larger as well as smaller.

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Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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