Cadmium sulfide, Thin film photovoltaics, Environment, Health


As the world’s population continues to grow, global energy crises are expected to rise in the future, thus accelerating the demand for renewable energy technology, particularly solar photovoltaics. The energy sector will face an increasingly complex array of interlocking challenges - technological, environmental, health, economic, and regulatory. In this paper, we study CdS, a widely used buffer material in thin film photovoltaics, to assess and monetize environmental, health, and socio-economic externalities associated with the use of the material. Currently, CdS has a significant advantage over other alternate buffer materials in terms of efficiency and low-cost production of large-area processing of thin films, but the potential environmental risks associated with the use of cadmium are of concern. We quantified the environmental, human health, and socio-economic impacts of cadmium emissions from CdS-buffered PV system. In addition, this paper provides a comprehensive outlook of the past, current, and future global market growth rate of thin film photovoltaic technologies.