Assessing Rare Metal Availability Challenges for Solar Energy Technologies

Leena Grandell (Corresponding Author), Mikael Höök

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Solar energy is commonly seen as a future energy source with significant potential. Ruthenium, gallium, indium and several other rare elements are common and vital components of many solar energy technologies, including dye-sensitized solar cells, CIGS cells and various artificial photosynthesis approaches. This study surveys solar energy technologies and their reliance on rare metals such as indium, gallium, and ruthenium. Several of these rare materials do not occur as primary ores, and are found as byproducts associated with primary base metal ores. This will have an impact on future production trends and the availability for various applications. In addition, the geological reserves of many vital metals are scarce and severely limit the potential of certain solar energy technologies. It is the conclusion of this study that certain solar energy concepts are unrealistic in terms of achieving TW scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11818-11837
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • solar energy
  • solar cells
  • rare metals
  • material constraints


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