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SEP Project


It is forecasted that over 30 terawatts (1012 W) of new power will be needed globally by 2050. To limit emissions of greenhouse gases and therefore reduce the harmful effects from fossil fuel burning and address resource limitations, the majority of the new power must come from renewable energies. PV solar electric technology is considered one of the top choices for CO2-free power production. The current mainstream solar cell technologies, e.g., wafer Si and thin-film CdTe and Cu(Ga,In)Se2 (CIGS) solar cells, cannot provide sustainable energy pathways (SEPs) for producing solar electricity at the terawatt level due to the scarcity of Te and In and the relatively long energy payback time for crystalline Si. To address the current and future energy issues, our lab will be part of a team that will develop earth abundant thin film solar cells such as those made from FeS2, CuxS, CuO, Zn3P2, or Cu2ZnSnS4.

The specific role of our lab in this project will be to perform life cycle sustainability analysis (LCSA) of proposed technologies and compare them to different alternatives. LCSA will be a combined analysis of life cycle costing (LCC), environmental life cycle assessment (LCA), and social life cycle assessment (SLCA). LCSA model will be developed using Bayesian statistics that will allow us to determine the parameter space necessary for most sustainable designs.