As a result of the global warming potential of fossil fuels there has been a rapid growth in the installation of photovoltaic generating capacity in the last decade. While this market is dominated by crystalline silicon, thin-film photovoltaics are still expected to make a substantial contribution to global electricity supply in future, due both to lower production costs and to recent increases in conversion efficiency. At present, cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper-indium-gallium diselenide (CuInxGa1−xSe2) seem to be the most promising materials and currently have a share of ≈9% of the photovoltaic market. An expected stronger market penetration by these thin-film technologies raises the question as to the supply risks associated with the constituent elements. Against this background, we report here a semi-quantitative, relative assessment of mid- to long-term supply risk associated with the elements Cd, Te, Cu, In, Ga, Se and Mo. In this approach, the supply risk is measured using 11 indicators in the four categories “Risk of Supply Reduction”, “Risk of Demand Increase”, “Concentration Risk” and “Political Risk”. In a second step, the single indicator values, which are derived from publicly accessible databases, are weighted relative to each other specifically for the case of thin film photovoltaics. For this purpose, a survey among colleagues and an Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) approach are used, in order to obtain a relative, element-specific value for the supply risk. The aggregation of these elemental values (based on mass share, cost share, etc.) gives an overall value for each material. Both elemental and “technology material” supply risk scores are subject to an uncertainty analysis using Monte Carlo simulation. CdTe shows slightly lower supply risk values for all aggregation options
Material and product life cycles are based on complex value chains of technology-specific elements. Resource strategy aspects of essential and strategic raw materials have a direct impact on applications of new functionalized materials or the development of novel products. Thus, an urgent challenge of modern materials science is to obtain information about the supply risk and environmental aspects of resource utilization, especially at an early stage of basic research. Combining the fields of materials science, industrial engineering and resource strategy enables a multidisciplinary research approach to identify specific risks within the value chain, aggregated as the so-called 'resource criticality'. Here, we demonstrate a step-by-step criticality assessment in the sector of basic materials research for multifunctional hexagonal manganite YMnO 3 , which can be a candidate for future electronic systems. Raw material restrictions can be quantitatively identified, even at such an early stage of materials research, from eleven long-term indicators including our new developed Sector Competition Index. This approach for resource strategy for modern material science integrates two objective targets: reduced supply risk and enhanced environmental sustainability of new functionalized materials, showing drawbacks but also benefits towards a sustainable materials research and development.
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