Industrial symbiosis of very large-scale photovoltaic manufacturing
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In order to stabilize the global climate, the world's governments must make significant commitments to drastically reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One of the most promising methods of curbing GHG emissions is a world transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells offer a technically sustainable solution to the projected enormous future energy demands. This article explores utilizing industrial symbiosis to obtain economies of scale and increased manufacturing efficiencies for solar PV cells in order for solar electricity to compete economically with fossil fuel-fired electricity. The state of PV manufacturing, the market and the effects of scale on both are reviewed. Government policies necessary to construct a multi-gigaWatt PV factory and complementary policies to protect existing solar companies are outlined and the technical requirements for a symbiotic industrial system are explored to increase the manufacturing efficiency while improving the environmental impact of PV. The results of the analysis show that an eight-factory industrial symbiotic system can be viewed as a medium-term investment by any government, which will not only obtain direct financial return, but also an improved global environment. The technical concepts and policy limitations to this approach were analyzed and it was found that symbiotic growth will help to mitigate many of the limitations of PV and is likely to catalyze mass manufacturing of PV by transparently demonstrating that large-scale PV manufacturing is technically feasible and reaches an enormous untapped market for PV with low costs. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.