PV ICE: Photovoltaics in the Circular Economy Tool
The Photovoltaic in the Circular Economy (PV ICE) tool models the flow of mass and energy in the PV industry, helping to plan a more circular economy for solar energy.
PV ICE is an open-source tool designed to provide stakeholders and decision makers with a data-backed, mass-flow-based evaluation of potential circular economy pathways for PV materials.
The software can be accessed from a GitHub repo that includes tutorials and full documentation.
PV ICE Tool Capabilities
Using historic and projected average bills of materials for PV modules, PV ICE can estimate material demands—including accounting for changes in future PV designs, performance, and market shares. It can also estimate end-of-life material volumes, track effective installed capacity, and estimate the impact of a variety of circular pathways for PV materials.
Key features of PV ICE include:
- A transparent, reproducible, and research-backed tool as an open-source package in Python
- Dynamic baseline inputs that capture the evolution of PV technology
- Variable schedules for future deployments of PV that consider different paths to decarbonization
- Mass-flow tracking of circular loops, with planned expansions to include energy, impacts, and economics dimensions, including pathways for reuse, repair, remanufacturing, and recycling
- Application of NREL's experience in PV reliability to evaluate the impact of PV system quality on PV retirements
- Incorporation of common industry practices and behaviors (e.g., economic project lifetime, merchant tails, and repowering)
- A flexible framework that can evaluate spatial resolution, scenario comparisons, and even other renewable energy sources.
Environmental and Circular Economy Implications of Solar Energy in a Decarbonized U.S. Grid, NREL Technical Report (2021)
PV Evolution in the Light of Circular Economy, 2021 IEEE 48th Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (2021)
Evaluating Material Circular Efficacy of Waste-Management Scenarios Using PV ICE Tool, NREL Poster Session (2021)
Solar Futures Study, DOE Technical Report (2021)
Baselines and Results
Cite the Tool
If you publish data generated from the PV ICE tool, please cite it accordingly:
Ovaitt, Silvana, Heather Mirletz, and Acadia Hegedus. 2021. “NREL/PV ICE: Release version 2.1 (v0.2.1).” Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5659151.